Clinching a postseason spot without having to do any work has to be relieving. That's what just happened to the Memphis Grizzlies, who look to build on their playoff status Monday against the Washington Wizards.
After the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Utah Jazz Sunday night, the Grizzlies were guaranteed their third straight postseason appearance. Out of action since Saturday's 110-106 victory over the Boston Celtics, Memphis reserve Jerryd Bayless led seven players in double digits with 30 points. Bayless is averaging 20.2 ppg in his last five games.
"I thought that (Bayless) gave us a huge lift," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "I mean, it was early on, and I didn't know how we were going to score. (Bayless) came in and started making shots and got on a roll and carried us in the first half."
Darrell Arthur finished with 18 points and Zach Randolph chipped in 15 and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who have won 10 straight at home and 17 of 21 overall. Randolph came off the bench Saturday after he was late to a pregame shootaround. Marc Gasol (abdominal tear) is still out indefinitely.
Tayshaun Prince and Mike Conley both had 12 points, Ed Davis netted 11 and Tony Allen added 10 and 10 rebounds for Memphis. Conley represents what Memphis is all about on defense and is second in the NBA with 2.3 steals per game.
With a 14-4 record since the All-Star break and a 21-0 mark when scoring at least 100 points, the Grizzlies can set a franchise record for road wins in a season with a victory over the Wizards. The Grizzlies, who sit first in team defense at 89.5 ppg, are 19-14 on the road and have never finished a season with a winning mark as the visitor. They're currently embroiled in a three-game road slide and slated to visit New York on Wednesday.
Memphis can also alter the course of its postseason path as the season winds down and is one game behind Denver for the third spot in the West and just one-half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth seed.
The Wizards just went 2-2 on a recent road trip and had won two straight and five of six games until a 101-92 setback against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
Cartier Martin had a career-high 23 points and John Wall was ejected in the third quarter after receiving his second technical foul, finishing with 14 points. Wall was involved in an altercation with Golden State's Klay Thompson in the third quarter before getting the heave.
"It's a lesson," Wizards coach Randy Wittman told NBA.com. "When you get an early technical, you can't get into anything talking on the floor."
Wall, though, is recording averages of 22.3 points, 9.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals in his last eight games.
Washington is back in the nation's capital, where it has won five in a row and owns an 18-17 mark. In injury news for the Wizards, guard Trevor Ariza (flu) is questionable versus the Grizzlies and rookie guard Bradley Beal (sprained left ankle) is doubtful. Beal has missed two straight and eight of 11 games.
The Wizards dropped an 85-76 road decision to Memphis on Feb. 1 and have lost three straight, seven of eight and 11 of the last 14 meetings between the teams.