The Vancouver Grizzlies took a big step forward with a win against the hobbled Washington Wizards.
The Grizzlies outlasted the Wizards 110-108 in overtime Saturday, earning their 14th victory - matching last season's win total and putting them one game shy of matching their all-time win total of 15 game set in their expansion season three years ago.
"That's great. We still have 31 games left and we can accomplish a lot here. This is something for us to build on," Bryant Reeves said after Vancouver snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Reeves is the first player ever drafted by Vancouver. He and Blue Edwards are the only players left from the team's inaugural season.
"I still think that at this point we should have more than 14 wins, but it's good to know that we're going to be better than last year," Edwards said. "We still have quite a few more games and getting to that 30-win plateau was one of our goals."
"It may happen, it may not. But certainly to surpass last year's total is a major step forward for us."
Saturday's win didn't come easily. Facing an injury-depleted Wizard team that dressed only nine players, the Grizzlies squandered a 10-point lead in the final 3:31 of regulation and also comitted 23 turnovers that led to 33 Washington points.
But Reeves put Vancouver ahead for good with 3:10 left in overtime, making one of two free throws for a 103-102 lead.
The feisty Wizards eventually fell behind by five but climbed back to 108-107 when Chris Whitney hit a 3-pointer with 7.5 seconds remaining.
At the other end of the floor, Edwards hit two free throws to restore the Grizzlies three-point lead.
The Wizards' last chance to pull the victory out ended when Whitney hit one free throw and then missed his second on purpose with 1.5 seconds left. Vancouver's Shareef Abdur-Rahim, however, was there to smother the rebound, cradling the ball in his arms until the buzzer sounded.
Abdur-Rahim finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
"We should have put the game away in regulation and never gave them a chance, but we were able to make the big plays (in overtime) down the stretch," Reeves said.
Washington coach Bernie Bickerstaff was proud of his team's gutsy performance as the Wizards lost for only the second time in their last seven outings.
The Wizards, who have missed 179-man games to injury so far this year, were forced to go without Juwan Howard (sprained left ankle) and Chris Webber (strained right shoulder). Both were sent home Friday to recuperate.
Washington, also minus Gheorghe Muresan (strained tendon), Lorenzo Williams (left knee), Ledell Eckles (knee surgery) and Tim Legler (flu, hamstring), has not dressed 12 healthy players since beating Vancouver almost a month ago.
"They've been playing scrappy," Bickerstaff said. "I can't ask for any more in terms of what they're doing as a basketball team. Everything we ask, they give and more."
Calbert Cheaney scored 24 points to lead six Wizards in double-figures.
Rod Strickland, the NBA assists leader, scored 22 points and had 17 assists.
Notes: Grizzlies' coach Brian Hill shook up his starting lineup putting forward Tony Massenburg in for leading-rebounder Otis Thorpe. It was the first time this season Thorpe has not started when healthy. ... The Grizzlies entered the night having lost 14 straight against Atlantic Division opponents, going back exactly one year when they beat the Boston Cetlics in Vancouver on Feb. 14. ... In his last 10 games, Strickland has averaged 18.5 points and 11.4 assists per game, including one triple-double. ... The Grizzlies went the entire first quarter without a foul, the first time in franchise history. Vancouver didn't pick up it's first foul until Edwards was called with 8:30 left in the second quarter.
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed