Grizzlies shut down Bradley Beal in a lopsided loss for the Wizards originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Wizards lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 125-111 on Tuesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
After winning seven of eight games, the Wizards have now lost two straight, the latest a blowout defeat at home to the Memphis Grizzlies. On Sunday, they made some key mistakes at the end to lose narrowly. On Tuesday, they were outmatched for most of the game.
Both losses were frustrating in their own right, but Tuesday's would have to be more concerning. The Wizards have righted the ship this season because of their defense, which seemed to in turn give them more stability, even in losses. That was not the case against Memphis.
Ja Morant was a big reason for that. Morant had 21 points and 10 assists. The Grizzlies also held Bradley Beal to 23 points, well below his scoring average (33.2/g). Dillon Brooks was face-guarding him for much of the night.
The Wizards have now lost consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 12 and up next are the very good L.A. Clippers, who beat the Wizards convincingly just last week. That will be the final game before the All-Star break, so either win that one or have extra time to think about a losing streak.
Russell Westbrook got off to a scorching start in the first quarter with nine points and six assists. He either scored or assisted on 20 of the Wizards' first 21 points.
But, as he's prone to do, Westbrook offset the positives with some costly turnovers. Westbrook, who leads the NBA in turnovers per game, had eight in this one. He had seven in the first half alone, which tied a career-high for a single half. In case you're interested, the Wizards' franchise record for turnovers in a half is 10, set by Gilbert Arenas back in 2009. He had seven in one quarter and 12 total that night.
The Wizards struggled to take care of the ball in general against the Grizzlies. Washington had 22 turnovers, which Memphis turned into 32 points on the other end. The Grizzlies lead the NBA in points off turnovers this season.
Morant was too much
The Wizards had no answer for the reigning rookie of the year. He was equally dominant no matter who was defending him.
Morant is known for his athleticism, particularly his speed and explosiveness around the rim. But against the Wizards, he showed off his ability to score from all different angles around the basket. He was a wizard with the ball in traffic, scoring through contact, dropping in floaters and reaching around defenders to scoop in layups.
Morant is such a skilled player at just 21 years old and has the high-level athleticism to match. He has all the tools to become a superstar in this league.
The Wizards saw a two-point deficit at the end of the first quarter balloon to 15 by halftime as the Grizzlies took the second quarter by a score of 36-23. The Wizards actually shot well in the frame, 10-for-19, but they had nine turnovers, which Memphis capitalized on.
Washington never fully recovered after that. They cut the lead to 10 points in the third quarter, but Memphis quickly got the momentum back and ran away with the win. Every time the Wizards tried to rally, the Grizzlies had an answer and held them off.
Melton also hurt them
The Grizzlies were coming off a record-setting win over the Rockets both based on their margin of victory (+49) and the 85 points they got from their bench. The Wizards' bench actually outscored the Grizzlies' 46-35, but much of the damage for Memphis' second unit was done in the first half.
The guy who headlined that group was De'Anthony Melton, a third-year guard out of USC. He caught the Wizards by surprise with 20 points, including 6-of-10 shooting from three. He matched the Wizards' bench as a whole with 17 points in the first half, all in just 13 minutes of work.