MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Bonzi Wells got off to a good start with Memphis fans—and the Grizzlies.
Wells made his debut to a standing ovation Friday night, then scored 12 points and handed out six assists, highlighting Memphis’ 92-77 victory over the Washington Wizards.
“I wasn’t used to that,” Wells said of the ovation. “I’ve been getting booed for so long, it felt good to get people cheering for you and having signs. It just feels great, and I’m happy they accepted me.”
Wells, acquired Wednesday from Portland, entered the game early in the first quarter, spelling Mike Miller, who got two quick fouls.
Wells had three assists in two minutes—two leading to dunks—and shot 6-for-13 in 27 minutes as Memphis won its fourth straight.
“I told (Memphis coach Hubie Brown), I don’t have to come in here and score,” Wells said of the early unselfish play. “I like to pass the ball. I like for everybody to go out there and feel good about playing. I saw a lot of my guys that were getting open.”
Christian Laettner led Washington with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting, while Larry Hughes added 15. Steve Blake had 12 and Juan Dixon scored 11, and the two led a failed fourth-quarter comeback by the Wizards.
“We were so far down, we were motivated,” Blake said. “You don’t want to look too bad. You’re getting blown out by 20, and you want to make a game out of it. You don’t want to come out and just lay down.”
Memphis led 50-30 at the half thanks mostly to the Wizards’ lackluster play. Missing their first eight shots was bad, but Washington’s 13 first-half turnovers only added to the trouble.
If not for Laettner’s 13 points in a reserve role, the margin would have been more. Hughes had 11 points and was the only Washington starter to score in the first half.
The 30 points was the fewest ever allowed by the Grizzlies in a first half. For the game, the Wizard starters were a combined 8-for-40 from the field.
“When we can’t put it in the basket, that’s the way it goes,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “The guys worked as hard as they could. We’re just not good enough right now.”
Washington pulled within 64-52 in the third quarter, but a reverse rebound dunk by Stromile Swift gave Memphis with a 68-52 lead heading into the fourth.
The Wizards made a run behind Dixon’s eight points early in the fourth, cutting the lead to 76-69 with 5:18 to play, but got no closer.
“You’ve got to make shots,” Dixon said. “We started off slow once again. We didn’t have a field goal for the first six minutes.
“I thought we made a serious run in the third quarter, but we just couldn’tpull it out.”
Wizards G Brevin Knight, formerly of the Grizzlies, returned to Memphis for the first time since a preseason trade sent him to Phoenix. He later was dealt to the Wizards for Jahidi White. … Memphis PG Jason Williams missed his third consecutive game with back spasms. …Washington C Etan Thomas, who sat out Tuesday’s loss at Dallas with the flu, was back in the lineup. …The Wizards are 0-11 when they trail entering the fourth quarter, while Memphis is 6-0 when leading after three. …Gasol recorded his ninth double-double of theseason. …Wells six assists were one short of his season high.