MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tayshaun Prince received a standing ovation as he entered his first game as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
The crowd was standing for him again down the stretch as he helped the Grizzlies pull away from the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Prince hit his first three shots, then connected on a pair of fourth-quarter jumpers to finish with 14 points as the Grizzlies defeated the Wizards 85-76.
“Getting the ‘W’ was the main thing,” Prince said. “Once we got in a good rhythm, we were able to pull through late in the game.”
Mike Conley scored 18 points to lead Memphis, which was playing its first home game since Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye were acquired in a three-team trade this week that sent Memphis leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto.
Conley said his role has changed as well as that of other teammates, who now must combine to pick up the 17.2 points a game that left for Toronto with Gay.
“I feel like that’s what I’m here for now. That’s my role,” Conley said. “I’m a role player. I’ll do whatever I have to do to win the game. Now, my role is to be more offensive-minded and try to make plays, be aggressive at all times and get up as many shots as I can.”
Marc Gasol added 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies, while Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless finished with 11 points each. Allen also grabbed eight rebounds, and Conley also had six assists and four steals. Prince finished 7 of 11 from the field.
Nene was the only Wizards player to reach double figures with 14 points, while handing out six assists. Emeka Okafor had eight points and 10 rebounds as Washington lost its third straight after winning seven of 10.
“They are a physical team,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said of the Grizzlies. “They make you move the ball, and, if you don’t move the ball, you end up taking bad shots.”
Washington rookie guard Bradley Beal missed his second straight game with a right wrist injury.
And the Wizards got another scare when guard John Wall, who missed the first 33 games of the season with a stress injury to his left patella, went to the locker room late in the second quarter with a strained left shoulder. He returned to start the second half, and finished with nine points and six assists.
“I was scared,” Wall said of the injury. “I can’t catch a break, is all I was thinking. I went back out there and played. I could still feel the pain, but I just tried to play through it.”
Memphis put the game away in the final 4 minutes, part of outscoring the Wizards 46-36 in the second half. The Grizzlies overtook the Wizards in the middle stages of the third quarter as Washington had trouble controlling the basketball. The Wizards had a handful of turnovers through the first eight minutes of the period.
The Grizzlies built the lead to five points helped by the Wizards‘ miscues, which would reach seven in the third. That led to Memphis carrying a 61-56 lead into the fourth quarter although the game was hardly an offensive display of efficiency.