WASHINGTON — One game into the new season and the Washington Wizards were already mad as heck. At themselves. At least there’s 81 more games to atone for their porous defensive showing on opening night, and they did enough rectifying during their curtain-raiser at home to get in the win column.
Corey Kispert was the catalyst for the Wizards on Saturday night, scoring all 22 of his points in the first half as Washington defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 113-106 inside Capital One Arena on Saturday evening. In his regular season home debut in Washington, Jordan Poole led the Wizards with 27 points, while holdover Kyle Kuzma chipped in with 21.
Washington evened its record to 1-1, that after their defeat in Indianapolis to the Pacers on Wednesday when the Wizards allowed a whopping 143 points in a 23-point defeat to start the regular season. On Saturday, however, the Wizards held Memphis to just 35 percent shooting from the first in the first half (15-for-43) as they opened up a 62-46 halftime lead.
“There was a little bit more care factor,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I think guys were (ticked) off, which is great. You should be. You’ve got to attack each game like that.”
The Wizards’ lead grew to 25, 75-50, midway through the third quarter, and though the Grizzles were able to slice the deficit to six late in the game, Memphis could not get any closer.
“It was much better. Just overall disposition was better,” Unseld said. “You could tell guys were locked in. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought we were in the right spots most of the night, and when you do that, you give yourself a chance.”
Desmond Bane led the Grizzles with 26 points, including four three-pointers. Memphis is playing without its superstar, Ja Morant, as he serves a 25-game suspension to begin the season, and now has dropped its first three games of the season after home losses to New Orleans and Denver on Wednesday and Friday.
“Obviously, we’re still working through it. It’s not pretty right now,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “But I love the effort that our guys are giving. … Offensively, I thought we turned the corner, especially in that third quarter.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s contest, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.