The Grizzlies built and lost a 16-point lead in the space of one quarter in a crucial game against the Washington Wizards.

Grizzlies 92 - Wizards 89

With the Mavericks getting pounded by the Bobcats tonight, and possibly losing Dirk Nowitski to an ankle injury, the Grizzlies needed had a prime opportunity tonight to climb the rankings with a win against the Washington Wizards.

Pregame

Mike Conley was seen putting up shots in pregame, but had not participated heavily in shoot-around earlier today and so was not expected to start. He didn't. Neither did Tony Allen, who was also listed as day-to-day. Courtney Lee, who rolled his ankle in the last game against Cleveland, was good to go.

First Half

Both offenses were wide open early, with Memphis hitting 4 of their first 5 shots and Bradley Beal getting 9 quick points on 4-4 shooting. Nick Calathes had a strong first quarter with 6 points — he also deflected a John Wall pass and finished the ensuing fast break with a layup. Gasol looked aggressive early, canned 6 first-quarter points, and generally looked more "in charge" than he has recently — a welcome sight. The Grizzlies held a mild 24-23 lead at the end of one, crucially not allowing Washington's high first quarter scoring offense put them in an early hole.

The Grizzlies bench was outstanding in the first half, with Kosta Koufos, Ed Davis, and James Johnson all getting good minutes on a second-unit that has gelled tremendously. Bloodsport made the end-of-the-year team highlight reel with a truly ridiculous backhanded dunk mid-way through the quarter, and followed it up with a fast break and-one, set up by Calathes. He was the star of the quarter with 10 points on 3-3 shooting, helping the Grizzlies build a six point lead into an 13-point halftime margin while they played lock-down defense against everyone but Bradley Beal (19 first-half points). Johnson capped it off with a soaring track-down block of Trevor Ariza's three-point attempt at the buzzer. Take a bow, sir.