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Wizards to spring Wall on Grizzlies

The Washington Wizards will try a new game plan Friday night when they open a back-to-back sequence with a visit to Memphis, Tenn., to face the Grizzlies.

Washington is just 1-4 on the front end of back-to-backs this season, in large part because star guard John Wall has sat out four of those games either due to injury or simply to rest.

With Wall back in action for three of the five games on the second night, the Wizards have gone 4-1, including 3-0 with their standout point guard.

Washington coach Scott Brooks announced Wednesday night that Wall will play both games of this weekend's back-to-back. The Wizards return home to face Milwaukee on Saturday.

The reason for the change? Other than the poor results with Wall out of the lineup, the Wizards have gotten into a bad habit of losing to weaker teams.

Their last two losses were by 35 points to Brooklyn and by 14 points to Atlanta.

"We should go into every game expecting to win and playing hard and giving ourselves a chance to win. If you don't play hard, you have no chance," he said. "Since John (Wall) has been back (following a loss to Brooklyn on Dec. 12), we are 8-3 now. Hopefully that continues."

The Wizards might be catching Memphis at the wrong time.

The Grizzlies had lost 19 of 21 games, mostly coinciding with Mike Conley's Achilles tendon injury, before a win in their last home game against the Los Angeles Clippers began a 3-3 run.

Two of those wins came on a just completed, five-game trip, with one of the losses coming in a competitive effort at Golden State.

"We've made improvements," Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "And then there's the consistency in those things. With the consistency and the improvements, the results will come.

"We're process-based. We're not talking about results. We're focusing on our habits and getting better there. We believe if we continue to get better with our habits, the results will go in our favor."

The Grizzlies surely are improved offensively of late. They've averaged 111.3 points in their last six games after having struggled at an 89.5 rate in their previous six games.

They are still without Conley, but good news appears to be on the horizon. The star has been working out, and could be ready to rejoin the team by mid-month.

The teams met Dec. 13 during the Grizzlies' offensive slump. Washington won 93-87.

The Wizards caught a break that night with the Grizzlies missing Tyreke Evans.

He has since scored in double figures in 10 straight games, topping 20 eight times and 30 on two occasions.

The clubs split games in each of the past two seasons, with Memphis scoring 112 points in each of two home wins.

Washington, which is coming off a 3-0 homestand, will begin a stretch of five straight at home with Saturday's game against Milwaukee.

The Wizards have lost four of their last five on the road.

Bradley Beal led six players in double figures with 18 points in the earlier win over Memphis.

Updated January 4, 2018

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