- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 6, 2003

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sitting in front of his locker following the Washington Wizards’ latest defeat, rookie Jarvis Hayes at last hit something dead-on.

“Well, it’s officially a losing streak,” Hayes said.

No kidding.

Last night the Wizards slipped into Memphis and played for most of the night with no more energy than Elvis Presley’s corpse in a 92-77 loss before 11,737 at the Pyramid.

The defeat was the fourth in a row for the Wizards (6-12), matching their longest losing streak of the season, by an average of 18 points. They also have lost six of seven and 10 of 13.

“For some reason lately, it hasn’t been going for us,” Wizards center Brendan Haywood said. “It’s frustrating. But you know what. Things have to turn around.”

Don’t count on that happening tonight, when the Wizards play in Milwaukee, because they’ve lost nine straight at Bradley Center.

After that, Washington visits high-powered Indiana on Tuesday. So if the Wizards are looking ahead to Wednesday’s game with Orlando (1-17), who could blame them?

Yet if they’re going to beat anybody, they’ll have to shoot the ball much better than they did last night, especially their starters.

Larry Hughes finished with 15 but made just two of 13 shots. Combined, Washington’s starters were 8-for-40 from the field. The next highest-scoring starter was Hayes, who made three of nine and finished with six points.

On this night, there was plenty of blame to go around. Kwame Brown was 1-for-11, scoring three points and grabbing nine rebounds. Chris Whitney had three points on 1-for-5 shooting. And once again the Wizards were plagued by turnovers. They had 29, leading to 29 points for the Grizzlies.

As a result, the Wizards fell behind by 23 points in the second quarter, mostly because of the starters’ frigid shooting. The 30 points they scored in the first half were a record low for a Grizzlies opponent.

“The first half was excellent,” Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. “We had only five turnovers, and we had 18 deflections. In the end, it was a very good win.”

The final score was as close as it was only because the Wizards battled back in the fourth quarter, at one point drawing within 76-69 on a 3-pointer by Steve Blake (career-high 12 points) with 5:19 left. But a slam dunk by the Grizzlies’ James Posey (15 points, seven rebounds) followed by a basket by Pau Gasol (17 points, 12 rebounds) restored their lead to 81-69.

Christian Laettner came off the bench to lead the Wizards with a season-high 17 points. Juan Dixon added 11.

In recent losses, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan has said that the Wizards’ shots just weren’t falling. Last night he attributed his team’s lack of success to good defense played by the Grizzlies, who are off to the best start in franchise history (10-8).

“They are a solid, well-coached team,” Jordan said. “You can see it in every game they play. They execute well, they get up into you and they chase you out of your offense. That’s a credit to them.”

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