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Grizzlies 85, Wizards 76

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- Tayshaun Prince might not hardly know any of the Memphis Grizzlies playbook, having just arrived after being traded from Detroit.

But Prince, playing his first game in 11 NBA seasons in a non-Pistons uniform, knows one thing is universal. The ball is still round, the goal is still 10 feet high and he knows how to put the round ball in the 10-foot basket.

Prince had eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter as the revamped Grizzlies turned back the Washington Wizards, 85-76, at FedExForum Friday night.

Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye were obtained by the Grizzlies on Tuesday when they traded leading scorer Rudy Gay and third-team center Hamed Haddadi to the Toronto Raptors in a three-team trade.

While point guard Mike Conley led the Grizzlies (30-16) with 18 points and six assists, and Marc Gasol had a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds, Prince looked as smooth as ever in his Grizzlies debut.

He made 7 of 11 shots, dealt three assists, blocked a shot and grabbed a rebound, fitting seamlessly into a Grizzlies offense that looked a bit unsure early in the game.

The Wizards (11-34), led by Nene who had 14 points and six assists, led 40-39 at the half. The new Grizzlies struggled a bit integrating into the offense stagnant and defensive rotations.

Without Gay, the Grizzlies returned to their offensive philosophy of two seasons ago when they advanced to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs when Gay was sidelined.

Memphis ran its offense through its bigs, Zach Randolph in the low post and Gasol in the high post. Having not been the main offensive options for such a long time, the duo struggled at times to get in sync.

Prince, though, seemed right at home in his first NBA appearance ever in anything but a Pistons' uniform. He hit his first three shots, played solid defense, passed to open shooters and generally played like the consummate pro he has been for more than a decade in Detroit.

It took the Grizzlies about one-and-a-half quarters to catch the Wizards after Washington closed the first period on a 7-0 run. But with Conley and Jerryd Bayless continually attacking the basket, Memphis finally edged ahead at 50-48 thanks to two Bayless free throws with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

Notes: Prince, 32 and in his 11th season, got to the point where he thought he'd start and end his career with one franchise. Wrong. "I thought I'd be there (in Detroit) longer than this, I thought they felt comfortable there as far as putting the team in the right direction," Prince admitted before he, Ed Davis and Austin Daye took the court as Grizzlies for the first time. "I was shocked when it happened. I had a lot of mixed emotions at time, but I'm ready to start a new chapter. It may not seem like it right now, but I'm excited. The last couple of days have been crazy. I've never been involved in a trade, but the guys here made me feel warm when I walked in the locker room. Davis is a 6-foot-11 third-year pro playing the best ball of his career. He's averaging 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in his last 14 games. "One of the hardest things I went through (in Toronto) was never being in the playoff race, just losing every night and going on 10-game losing streaks," said Davis, who was 54-21 in his two college seasons at North Carolina before turning pro in 2010-11. "That's why I'm excited to be on a team in the playoff race." Daye, a 6-11 four-year pro from Gonzaga, played in just 24 games for the Pistons this season, yet shot 52.5 from 3-point land. Knowing the Grizzlies needed outside shooting, he was fine with being traded to a team in the playoff mix. "It's a thrill to come here because I was on a team that was 12th in the East and I came to a team fourth in the West so the records flopped," Daye said.
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