- Associated Press - Sunday, March 18, 2012

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After playing in a first-half funk, the Memphis Grizzlies finally relied on better team basketball in the second half.

And Rudy Gay’s 3-pointer with 23.9 seconds left put the finishing touch on the Washington Wizards.

Gay scored 27 points, including five in the final minute, to lift the Grizzlies to a 97-92 victory over the Wizards on Sunday.

“I think as the game went on, especially late in the fourth quarter, we finally made the right play,” said guard Mike Conley, who added 17 points and six assists. “The play to Rudy at the end with the 3 was a prime example of the right play, and we finally made it.”

Marc Gasol had 15 points and Zach Randolph added 13 for Memphis, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Randolph, Gay and Gasol had nine rebounds apiece, helping the Grizzlies to a 53-40 advantage on the boards.

“They are a physical team. They muck it up,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “They are very physical out front. There is a lot of bumping, grinding and fouling that makes them that way.

“We gave ourselves an opportunity, but we just couldn’t make plays down the stretch.”

John Wall led the Wizards with 25 points and six assists. Jordan Crawford finished with 22 points, and Kevin Seraphin had 12 points and 12 rebounds as Washington lost for the fifth time in the last six.

Washington committed 21 turnovers, including seven by Wall. Memphis committed 14 turnovers while shooting just 40 percent.

The Wizards trailed only 90-86 after Wall’s layup with 46 seconds left. But Gay connected on the 3-pointer, and the Grizzlies hit their last four free throws, including a pair by Gay.

“It was just us playing team basketball,” Gay said. “That’s one thing about us, the way we’ve been playing. If they take away one thing, try the next option. If that option is taken away, we have another option for that.”

Memphis was able to build its advantage in the third quarter and never trailed in the fourth, although Washington did pull even with 8:23 left on a dunk by Maurice Evans.

Washington carried a 48-45 lead into intermission after an ugly first half that involved poor shooting, poor ballhandling and little flow.

The Wizards shot better at 45 percent, but committed 10 turnovers. Memphis managed only 38 percent from the field and had seven turnovers.

“We were basically just trying to find our way,” Gay said. “I didn’t feel like we didn’t know what we were doing. It was kind of like we were a step slow.”

Story Continues →