Washington came into last night’s game with the worst record in the NBA at 10-37, and the Grizzlies weren’t much better at 11-35. Memphis lost 12 in a row and 20 of their last 22 games. Both teams fired their head coaches and interim generals are commandeering the nearly sunken ships.
Should be fun, right?
— The leftovers from Obama-mania are still found everywhere. Almost every corner store in D.C. is hawking some type of Obama memorabilia from stickers to shot glasses.
— I try to get some time with Rudy Gay (it’s a homecoming of sorts—he’s from neighboring Baltimore) but he’s off to shoot some jumpers and promises to catch me on the way back.
— Mike James is chopping it up big in the Wiz locker room. In between constantly calling out “Mike Jones!” he’s giving a fellow media member the business, insisting he resembles the “Tickle Me Elmo” doll and making a mock Elmo sound. Apparently the two know each other as the subject switches to Darius Miles’ injury and his contract with Portland.
— Mike Conley could easily pass for a “regular” guy just there to report on the game. I ask him who he likes more on NBA on TNT, Charles or Gary? “Gary’s cool but I’d have to go with Charles,” he says.
— DeShawn Stevenson is just like you would think. He’s straight chillin’ in flip-flops and socks watching Grizzlies game tape.
— All the losses must’ve put a hole in some of the Griz players’ stomachs. Greg Buckner is crushing some chicken fingers and fries while Darko polishes off a subway sandwich.
— DMiles hurries by and enters the weight room, which emanates sounds of Jay-Z’s “American Gangster.”
— In the Grizzlies locker room there is a treasure chest of “Extra” brand chewing gum and mints. I don’t know if that’s for them or us.
— I head out to the court to see what Rudy is up to. The Griz PR rep is ushering him back toward the locker room and there’s a couple reporters already bending his ear. He walks with B-More swag and carries himself like he’s a star. Not arrogant, just confident.
— Question of the Night: Who was the biggest All-Star snub?
Greg Buckner: “Carmelo Anthony.”
Mike James: “Al Jefferson.”
Mike Conley: “Kevin Durant.”
Carl the Usher: “Caron Butler.” No surprise here. But he has a good argument regardless of his employer. Caron is one of only two NBA players to be averaging at least 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game. The other player is LeBron James.
— People are filing-in to a mashup of Beyonce’s “If I Was a Girl” vocals over Young Jeezy’s “Go Crazy” beat. No one is going crazy.
— Wizards are introduced to “Swagger Like Us” by T.I. and a round of applause from the 30 people in attendance.
— Rudy drops a 3-pointer. Man his stroke is smooth. Pause.
— Caron comes back and bangs one home himself. These two are guarding each other and should be fun to watch.
— Caron bangs home another jumper. Let’s see if Rudy’s got the D to keep Caron from going off.
— Grizzlies start Gay, Arthur, Gasol, Mayo and Conley. Gay is the elder statesmen with two years under his belt. They’re super young but super talented.
— Conley just blows a gimme layup which Gay follows up on. Conley makes up for it and steals the inbound pass, gets fouled and sinks the foul shot.
— Timeout, Wizards. They’re down seven. Let’s see if interim head coach has some wisdom that translates to baskets.
— Caron hammers another 3-pointer.
— Marc Gasol looks and plays similar to his brother.
— Caron bangs another jumper home. He’s getting the best of Rudy so far.
— Jamison hits a 3 to tie the game up. Jamison is so consistent and smooth. He doesn’t get ruffled or go for all the razzle-dazzle. He just gets it done.
— End of the 1st. 32-29 Grizzlies. Butler and Jamison score 12 points each for the Wiz. Pretty telling stat—it’s been pretty much a two-man show all year.
— Kyle Lowry hits the deck going for a steal and is limping his way into the locker room.
— Someone below me is booing Rudy every time he gets the ball or his name is mentioned over the loud speaker. Rudy must’ve picked on him in high school or something.
— Gasol gets the basket and the foul. His beard isn’t quite as scraggily as Pau’s but it ain’t exactly George Clooney style.
— O.J. Mayo hits a tough 17-footer. He looks even better than his season averages show.
— Gay drops a nice cross-lane floater. His hops are evident.
— Nick Young comes back with the hoop and the harm. Free throw is good. Wizards are down five.
— Gay drives the baseline and dunks one home. He just might give Dwight Howard a run this year in the dunk contest.
— Gay nails a shot at the buzzer to give the Grizzlies a four-point lead going into the half. It’s 61-57.
— The Wizards have no answer for Mayo so far. He’s got 19 points and 4 assists. I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped 40.
— Caron only had one bucket in the 2nd quarter. Rudy stepped it up on D.
— The arena has filled up a bit. Some woman is singing a folk sounding song while a dude that looks like the lead singer from Counting Crows plays the bongos. (Anyone can technically “play” the bongos right? You could put me down there, and I’m sure I could come up with something that resembles what this guy is doing.)
— Mike James misses a 3-pointer. Badly.
— Darrell Arthur hits a 19-footer. The kid’s got a little range.
— Mayo comes off the curl and takes it to the hoop and scores with a beautiful scoop shot.
— Caron drives hard to the lane and draws the foul and that’s four on Arthur. He’s taking a seat and Buckner strides off the bench.
— JaVale McGee follows up a Jamison miss. He’s been solid on the inside so far. He’s got 2 blocks and is showing some signs of being a valid NBA big-man.
— During the break, they broke out the “Kiss Cam” on the jumbo screen. They finished it off by focusing the camera on two Griz bench players. They didn’t like that.
— Nice feed from Caron to McGee for the slam. Wizards are stepping it up and have a 3-point lead with 3:30 left in the 3rd.
— Buckner nails a 3-pointer. Did his feet even leave the ground?
— I think the guys next to me are covering Marko Jaric. I can’t understand a thing they are saying. They came a long way for a Wiz vs. Griz game.
— Beautiful step-back jumper from Gay. Griz our now up five.
— Caron and Rudy are going at it in the low post. Caron gets called for the foul. They’re in the penalty so Rudy’s going to the line.
— Next possession, Rudy puts it behind his back while driving the lane, makes the layup and draws the foul. Free throw is good.
— Rudy’s back at it with the steal and a thunderous dunk.
— Rudy’s eaten his spinach, and the Grizzlies are up 13 going into the 4th quarter.
— Buckner nails another 3. That’s how he stays in the League y’all.
— Nick Young answers with a 3 of his own. He’s got 13.
— Antawn drains one from beyond the arc. He’s got 27 points. Man is he a versatile forward.
— It’s a 10-point lead for the Grizzlies. Someone needs to get hot on the Wizards if they’re going to pull this one out.
— Caron follows a miss with the tip-in. The lead is cut to single digits with 6:30 left.
— Both teams are now playing like their record indicates. They can’t put the ball in the bucket.
— Mayo stops the drought with a 17-footer. He has 29 points.
— Rudy just missed a nasty follow up jam. I think he had his neck at rim level on that one.
— Wizards can’t hit the big shot they need. This one is close to being over. The lack of Gilbert Arenas is evident. The Wizards need him for the clutch buckets.
— Mayo drops points 30 and 31 at the line. This one’s a wrap.
— Wizards couldn’t hit anything in the 4th quarter. Grizzlies end their losing streak and show some serious promise for the future with Conley, Gay, Mayo and Gasol.
— 113-97. It’s in the books at the nation’s capital.