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Late breakdown costs Wizards in Memphis

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 29, 2009

MEMPHIS, Tenn. | After painfully trudging through a six-game stretch that saw them lose all six by a combined 14 points two weeks ago, the Washington Wizards finally seemed poised to come out on the winning end of a fourth-quarter rally.

But instead Washington suffered yet another collapse in the final 0.3 seconds of regulation and then went on to fall 116-111 in overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies.

After rallying from a 94-84 fourth-quarter deficit, the Wizards (10-19) held a 102-100 lead but put Memphis' Zach Randolph at the line with 0.3 seconds left. Randolph swished home both shots forcing overtime, and his Grizzlies carried that momentum into overtime where they outscored the Wizards 14-9 and earned the victory.

Thirty points from Gilbert Arenas and 24 apiece from Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler weren't enough to save the Wizards, who got hammered on the boards 54-41 and allowed four Memphis players to top the 20-point mark.

The Grizzlies (14-16) improved to 6-0 at home when facing teams with sub-.500 records.

The Wizards, who had lost in four straight trips to Memphis, traded leads with the Grizzlies nine times in the first quarter, which ended with the score tied 23-23.

The Wizards took a 51-50 lead into halftime after another back-and-forth second quarter. The Wizards' starters shot a combined 60 percent from the field in the half, which helped offset a 26-16 rebounding disadvantage.

Meanwhile, Grizzlies guard Mike Conley -- after going 2-for-10 from the field in his last outing -- led Memphis' first-half attack with 12 points.

Conley remained effective in the second half, but it was backcourt mate O.J. Mayo that took over the game in the third quarter. After making only two of six field goals for five points in the first half, the second-year USC product went off for 12 third-quarter points on 5-for-7 shooting.