Grizzlies 112, Wizards 107
Antawn Jamison exited the shower as Brendan Haywood made his way back and Jamison smiled as he said, "Felt good having somebody have my back, telling me where I needed to be."
Haywood exhausted and still in uniform, turned back and simply said, "I'm tired."
Haywood had two points, two rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes during his surprising debut on Wednesday, giving the Wizards a defensive presence in the fourth quarter that has been missing all season. It wasn't just his three blocked shots or the shot clock violation he helped force or even that huge steal with about minute remaining. Haywood also yelled out instructions to his teammates and kept the Grizzlies from attacking the rim or attempting to feed center Marc Gasol in the fourth quarter. His offensive timing was way off, as he missed his first five shots, all which were near the basket. You have to assume that some of those likely would've gone in if had played in the past 11 months.
"That was a little rust," Haywood said. "My timing was definitely off. Games move faster than they did in practice. I had to get used to it."
Haywood had a chance to be a hero, but he perhaps got a bit too greedy late in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 105, he forced a steal after batting away a bad pass from Grizzlies guard Mike Conley. Caron Butler recovered the ball and raced down the floor. Butler's layup attempt rolled around the rim but Haywood trailed and was called for goaltending after he dunked it before it left the cylinder with 1:04 left. "It was one of those plays where, when I first took off, it looked like it was going to rim out. I jumped because I thought it was going to come off perfect, and it ended up rolling in," Haywood said. "It probably hurt us down the stretch, but the biggest thing was going down 15."
... The Wizards really had no business going down 88-73 entering the fourth quarter, but they played a horrible third quarter, turning the ball over seven times in the period, which resulted in 13 points for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies really are a bad team, but the Wizards gave Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo plenty of confidence as those guys were able to race down the floor for fastbreak dunks.
... Jamison has never been noted for his passing skills, but he seemed overly aggressive last night with rookie Darrell Arthur guarding him. Jamison played like he wanted to embarrass the youngster from Kansas, as if he was going to get personal retribution for the Jayhawks' defeat of North Carolina in the Final Four last year. Problem was, his shot wasn't falling. He missed 10 of his first 13 attempts and finished 8-for-20 with 28 points.
... About that Javaris Crittenton turnover in the final seconds, when the Wizards were down 110-107 and looking to tie the game. Ed Tapscott drew up a play for either Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison or Nick Young to attempt a three-pointer. When he was handed the ball, Crittenton saw that Butler, who had scored 31 points, was double-teamed in the corner. Jamison had yet to break free of his man at the three-point line, and Young was the only player he saw open. "It wasn't like we had a timeout, so I couldn't wait the whole five seconds and ball fake. I went for the first guy open," Crittenton said.
Said Jamison, "It was difficult for the young fella. He's back there counting in his head and he thought he had to get the ball quickly and Conley made a great play on the ball."
... I may have seen the one of the worst offensive possessions in the fourth quarter when Rudy Gay had the ball in isolation against his fellow UConn alum Caron Butler along the baseline. Gay was dribbling and dribbling, trying to get around Butler, and the clock kept ticking and ticking. The few fans at FedEx Forum (more on that later), started getting restless, begging for Gay to pass or shoot. He did neither. Then, when the shot clock whittled down to two seconds, he tried to throw the ball off Butler to get it to go out of bounds. Butler moved and the Grizzlies got a shot clock violation.
Moments later, O.J. Mayo tried to compete with Gay for worst shot clock violation as he tried to dribble his way out of a double team against Haywood and Nick Young. Mayo's teammates were begging for the ball, but Mayo never lifted his head until he committed the turnover.
... I covered the Atlanta Hawks for two seasons and Philips Arena was hardly ever a filled-up arena. The Hawks were notorious for having lousy crowds, but I have never seen a crowd as terrible as the one Wednesday in Memphis. The team announced a crowd of 10,013, but another reporter and I were arguing about which digit should be removed to reveal the more accurate attendance. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley was in attendance and he had to be upset to see so many empty seats -- especially when about one-fourth of the tickets are $10 or less.
... I guess the city is in mourning over Memphis Tigers Coach John Calipari leaving for Kentucky. Hard to believe that the last game played in this building was the NCAA Tournament game between Oklahoma and North Carolina. This one had to be a letdown, even with the Grizzlies winning.
April 1, 2009; 11:41 PM ET
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