- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

MEMPHIS | Wizards coach Ed Tapscott heard a knock at his hotel door Wednesday afternoon.

He thought it was the bellboy coming to get his bags. As he opened the door, prepared to instruct the person on the other end that he wasn’t ready, he discovered it was center Brendan Haywood.

Hawyood told Tapscott he wanted to play in Wednesday night’s game at Memphis. Considering Haywood has been out all season after undergoing wrist surgery in training camp, only one thing popped in Tapscott’s mind.

“The first thing I asked him was, ‘This isn’t an April Fool’s joke, is it?’ ” Tapscott said. “I was delighted. He said, ‘No.’ ”

It was no joke. Haywood came off the bench and played 24 minutes in the Wizards 112-107 loss to the Grizzlies.

The plan was for Haywood to play roughly 10 minutes in each half. He entered the game with 2:03 remaining in the first quarter and played just over eight minutes in the half. He missed his only two shots in the half and had one rebound.

Haywood finished the game with two points and two rebounds but played the entire fourth quarter as the Wizards rallied from a 15-point deficit to tie the game at 105-105 with 1:23 to play.

The Wizards had a chance to take the lead after a Grizzlies turnover, but Haywood was called for basket interference on Caron Butler’s layup attempt with 1:04 to go. The Grizzlies regained the lead on a pair of Mike Conley free throws with 24 seconds left. But Butler missed a jumper with 11 seconds remaining.

With the Wizards trailing by three with three seconds left, Conley stole Javaris Crittenton’s inbounds pass.

Butler led the Wizards with 31 points, while Antawn Jamison had 28 points and 10 rebounds. Crittenton added 13 points and 11 assists. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 25 points, while Conley added 22.

Needless to say, Haywood’s unexpected return was a welcomed sight for the injury-riddled Wizards.

“Just to give him a chance to work himself back into it,” Tapscott said. “The same thing we did with [Gilbert Arenas] and other players that have come back. Let the game come to you. Let it present itself to you. As you get more and more comfortable, you become more and more aggressive.”



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