WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall helped the Washington Wizards avoid a bad loss.
Wall had 13 points in his return from a sore knee, Bradley Beal scored 18 points and the Wizards held off the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night.
Washington surrendered a 17-point third quarter lead and nearly continued its season-long trend of losing games to inferior teams.
"We have leads but we don't do a great job of stepping on teams' throats and just getting these teams out of the way," said Wall, who had four assists and a blocked shot in 27:37 of playing time.
Unlike some other nights, the Wizards pulled this one out. Beal scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, hitting three 3-pointers.
After the Grizzlies took their first lead of the night, 67-65, on James Ennis III's 3-pointer with 8:53 left to play, Washington responded with a 13-0 run and Memphis got no closer than 83-80 the rest of the way.
"When you're down at that point, you've got to play perfect," Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "And those 3s especially, they hurt you."
Wall missed nine games, with Washington going 4-5 in his absence and coming off a five-game trip that ended with a Tuesday night loss at Brooklyn.
"Just what I thought. He gave us a boost," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said about Wall. "He made some amazing plays, blocked (a shot) like I've never seen a point guard do ever and he makes it look easy. He didn't have a lot of assists, but we didn't make a lot of shots for him."
Andrew Harrison led Memphis with 20 points, JaMychal Green had 15 points and15 rebounds, and Marc Gasol had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Grizzlies have lost five straight and 16 out of 17.
Memphis erased most of an 11-point deficit to pull to 29-27 in the second quarter when Wall heated up a sluggish game.
His drive to the basket made it 31-27. He hit a corner 3 and followed by a driving dunk and a long 2-pointer to cap his personal 9-0 run and Washington eventually led 41-29 at halftime.
The Wizards built the lead to 17 early in the third quarter, but Memphis rallied and Ben McLemore's 3-pointer tied it at 62 early in the fourth.
"I thought defensively we did a much better job, we were proactive we were more aggressive, we were sort of the instigator," Gasol said of the rally.
Memphis was without guard Tyreke Evans. The Grizzlies' second-leading scorer was held out after experiencing right hip soreness during pregame warm-up.
- TIP INS -
Grizzlies: Scored a season-low 12 points in the first quarter and season-low 29 in first half. ... Have lost first 10 vs. Eastern Conference, the franchise's skid longest since losing the first 11 in 1996-97. ... Have dropped their last four visits to Washington.
Wizards: Otto Porter Jr. added 14 points, and Marcin Gortat had 12. . Missed 13 of 22 free throws. ... F Markieff Morris was a late scratch with a sore right hip. ... C Ian Mahinmi missed his second straight game with a sore right hip. ... The 12-first quarter points were the fewest the Wizards have allowed in any quarter this season.
- QUOTABLE -
"I mean both teams, that was probably as bad offensive basketball as you're going to see by the world's greatest players." — Brooks referring to the first half.
- STEPPING UP -
Both teams were without expected starters. For Memphis, Chandler Parsons stepped in for Evans and scored 12 points. Washington's Mike Scott started in place of Morris and had 10 points.