WASHINGTON — Facing a watered-down version of the second-best team in the Western Conference, John Wall finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists Thursday night, leading the Washington Wizards past the Memphis Grizzlies 107-87.
The game got chippy late in the third quarter, when Washington’s Kevin Seraphin was called for a flagrant-2 and ejected for knocking Jon Leuer to the court as the Grizzlies’ backup forward dunked. Earlier, Seraphin got tangled on the floor with Jarnell Stokes, which followed another bit of grabbing between Stokes and Washington’s Marcin Gortat.
As it is, both teams were short-handed. Memphis sat three starters: Mike Conley, because of an injured right ankle; Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, resting on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Grizzlies also held out key reserve Tony Allen.
And the Wizards were without one starter, Nene, for what the team said were personal reasons.
The outcome was pretty much determined in the first half, when Wall had 18 points, five assists and four rebounds to help Washington lead 60-47. The Wizards outscored the Grizzlies 34-14 in the second quarter.
Gortat finished with 22 points for Washington, which built its lead to 27 in the third quarter.
Stokes and rookie JaMychal Green scored 13 apiece for the Grizzlies, who wrapped up a 1-3 trip. Memphis came into the evening with a two-game lead over Portland for the West’s second seed.
Once as high as No. 2 in the East, Washington has dropped to fifth thanks to a 4-13 stretch that preceded its current two-game winning streak.
Conley twisted his ankle in the second half of Memphis’ loss at the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, and coach David Joerger said he couldn’t offer a timetable for the point guard’s return.
As for the absences of All-Star Gasol, Randolph and Allen, Joerger said that Thursday was “probably a game that’s been targeted for a couple of weeks — 12 games, 19 nights. We haven’t been playing with a ton of energy lately, so it seemed like the right thing to do at this point.”
The Grizzlies went with a lineup that included Green, Benoh Udrih and Kosta Koufos, a trio that entered the night having made a combined total of six starts this season.
The Wizards played most of the second quarter without starting shooting guard Bradley Beal, who went to the sideline with his third foul after being called for a flagrant-1 when his elbow caught Jordan Adams in the face.
Memphis led by nine in the first quarter, which ended with it ahead 33-26. But the Wizards — especially Wall — turned got things around in the second, using a 16-2 run capped by the point guard’s three-point play with 3 minutes remaining.
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