LOS ANGELES, 3 March 2004 — Lorenzen Wright was in the right place at the right time. Wright scored on a follow up shot with 19 seconds remaining and the visiting Memphis Grizzlies slipped past the Tim-Duncan-less San Antonio Spurs, 81-80 on Monday night.
After Malik Rose hit two free throws to give the Spurs an 80-79 edge, the 6-foot-10 Wright followed his own miss with the go-ahead basket that proved to be the eventual winner.
“The play wasn’t run for me,” said Wright who finished with 12 points. “I just wanted to be persistent. I wanted to go after the loose ball and get the rebound. Then the ball just ended up in my hands and I went back up strong.”
The Spurs had a chance to claim victory but looked lost without reigning two-time Most Valuable Player Duncan, who went on the injured list Saturday with a bruised thigh. After a timeout, they struggled to get off a shot, and settled for Rose’s wild off-balance attempt in the lane as time expired.
Reserve guard Earl Watson scored 13 points and Pau Gasol added 11 as Memphis won for the sixth time in the last eight games by outscoring San Antonio 24-12 in the final frame.
“We held them to 12 points in the fourth quarter,” Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown said. “That was big.”
Without Duncan, Rasho Neterovic picked up the slack with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the reigning NBA champion Spurs. Hedo Turkoglu scored 19 points and Manu Ginobili added 15 off the bench. Tony Parker managed just three points and was heavily criticized for his poor play.
“He needs to be more consistent,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich of his French floor leader. “You can’t play like a hero one night and the next as if you don’t exist. It happens too often. He needs to understand if he wants to be a leader, mentally he needs to be more prepared to play. It’s very important for our team. We can’t do anything close to what we did last year if he’s that inconsistent.”
Utah 94, Detroit 86
Gordon Giricek scored five of his 24 points down the stretch, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:17 remaining to help the Jazz match its season-high winning streak at four. Rookie Aleksander Pavlovic added 15 points for Utah, while all-star Andrei Kirilenko finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals.
Rasheed Wallace scored 27 points for Detroit, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Chauncey Billups added 17 points while Ben Wallace pulled down 16 rebounds.
Boston 117, Orlando 96
Mark Blount had a monster game with career highs of 28 points and 21 rebounds to lead the host Celtics to their third consecutive victory. Paul Pierce had 25 points and nine rebounds for Boston, which opened the fourth quarter on a decisive 25-0 run.
League leading scorer Tracy McGrady led Orlando with 29 points despite early foul trouble.
Washington 111, New Orleans 106 (OT)
Gilbert Arenas scored eight of his 35 points in overtime, and the host Wizards regrouped after squandering a 21-point second-half cushion to win for the third time in the last four games.
Jarvis Hayes added 16 points as Washington outscored New Orleans 15-10 in the extra session. Baron Davis led New Orleans with 18 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to go along with 11 assists. Jamal Mashburn scored 28 points while Jamal Magloire had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Chicago 92, Cleveland 81
Rookie guard Kirk Hinrich scored 11 of his 22 points in a pivotal third quarter to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists as the lowly Bulls surprised the visiting Cavaliers.
Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis added 18 points apiece for Chicago. Zydrunas Ilgauskas collected 19 points and 10 rebounds to pace Cleveland. LeBron James scored 18 points while Carlos Boozer grabbed 13 rebounds.
Stress Forces Suspended Ref to Delay NBA Meeting
In New York, Referee Michael Henderson delayed his meeting here with NBA officials from yesterday until Friday at the earliest to discuss his three-game suspension for a botched call.
The National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) issued a statement Monday night that said Henderson had the meeting pushed back due to stress and anxiety caused by the recent developments. The NBA denied Henderson’s request for legal representation during his meeting with senior vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson at the league’s offices here.
According to the referees association, the league on Sunday said it does not “believe that the NBA is required to permit, or that it would be appropriate to permit, any representative of the NBRA to attend that meeting.”
The NBRA said its counsel received a letter Monday in which the NBA stated that “the purpose of the meeting is only to assist in (Henderson’s) development as an official. Meetings of this kind are not, and have never been, adversarial proceedings at which any sort of representation is necessary or appropriate.
“The NBRA is aware, through referee testimonials, that what the NBA is calling ‘developmental meetings’ to provide performance recommendations, are in fact intimidation mechanisms with no education component, only critical dialogue,” NBRA attorney Lamell McMorris said.
“This and the NBA’s overreactive punitive action against Mr. Henderson validates why the NBRA has advised all referees to be accompanied by the association’s general or private counsel during meetings with the league.”
Henderson, 43, was handed an unannounced three-game suspension with pay by the league for an error in the closing moments of last Wednesday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.
Henderson’s call directly affected the outcome of the game, which the visiting Lakers won 112-111.
On Friday, Henderson’s fellow referees staged a visible protest of the suspension, wearing their uniforms inside out and writing Henderson’s jersey number, 62, on the back of the shirts.
NBA Commissioner David Stern criticized the protest Saturday, saying, “Last night’s display was woefully inconsistent with the professionalism with which NBA officials normally conduct themselves.”