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Wizards seek to maintain momentum vs. Grizzlies

Sportsnaut
Nov 12, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (6) celebrates with Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (33) against the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

After recording impressive wins over the Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks, the Wizards posted a 121-112 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points and 10 rebounds to lead Washington, while Kyle Kuzma added 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

The Wizards have won their last three games without leading scorer Bradley Beal, who has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocol but is unlikely to play on Sunday.

“He’s out of protocol, which is a positive,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “He’s missed five or six days, so there’s some concern with his conditioning. He’s going to work out and get a ramp up before we throw him out there.”

Washington has received a boost from several players in Beal’s absence, including forward Corey Kispert, who scored 18 points in Saturday’s win. Kispert said the team is gaining valuable experience without Beal in the lineup.

“It’s huge. Everybody knows that he’s our best player,” Kispert said. “He’s the head of the snake. Not only to weather the storm, but to put together a winning streak when he’s out is huge. We were struggling for a little bit, and playing games like that will only make us better because injuries happen.”

The Wizards are eager to avenge a 103-97 loss to Memphis last Sunday, when Grizzlies stars Ja Morant and Desmond Bane combined for 51 points.

The team’s two leading scorers are both listed as doubtful against the Wizards. Morant is battling left ankle soreness, while Bane has right toe soreness.

Morant is averaging 28.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists. The fourth-year pro had 28 points in a 114-103 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

“He can score at five levels — at the rim, his floaters, his mid-range, the free-throw line, the 3-point lines — all the work that he’s put in,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He’s constantly trying to evaluate what teams are doing to him defensively.”

If Morant and Bane are unable to play on Sunday, the Grizzlies will turn to forward Dillon Brooks and reserve guard Tyus Jones to help fill the scoring void. Brooks had 21 points in the win over Minnesota.

Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has yet to make his season debut while recovering from right foot surgery, but Jenkins said he is nearing a return and could be available this week.

Washington is giving reserve guard Jordan Goodwin an extended look this week, and the 24-year-old has responded with several strong performances. After scoring a career-high 17 points earlier this week against Charlotte, he had nine points in 21 minutes in the win over Utah.

Goodwin, who was undrafted coming out of Saint Louis University in 2021, signed a two-way contract with the Wizards before the regular season.

“Guys have rallied behind him,” Unseld said. “They understand where he’s coming from. He’s competing for a job. He’s done a terrific job of making the most of his minutes, and he’s helped us win. So I give the kid a lot of credit. He’s got heart. He’s tough. He tries to play the right way, and he’s got a little grit, so he’s not scared of the moment.”

–Field Level Media