Washington 97, Charlotte 83, Game 32 of 82 (Wizards 15-17)
Going into Tuesday night’s game, the Bobcats and Wizards couldn’t have been any different. Charlotte (15-21) just broke a four-game losing streak with a Saturday night win at Sacramento while Washington hadn’t won a game in 2014, losing three straight home games after the turn of the calendar. In the Wizards’ last two games, horrendous third quarter performances doomed the team against Toronto and Golden State. Would the Wizards solve that problem Tuesday night, at the start of a three-game road trip?
Bradley Beal’s 21 points led five Wizards in double figures in a fourteen-point victory at Charlotte. Washington outscored the host Bobcats in the third quarter, providing a measure of relief to the Wizards’ brain trust.
Charlotte started off hot, with guard Gerald Henderson scoring their first seven points. Washington started with a balanced attack, with Nene and Marcin Gortat scoring five each in the first quarter. Even though it seemed the Wizards settled for numerous jumpers, they hit enough to take a 24-21 lead at the end of the first quarter. Henderson finished the period with eleven points, and Kemba Walker added five in the last three minutes of the period.
The second quarter was similar to the first. Both team took lots of jump shots, and a few of them fell. The largest lead either team had was five points, when the Wizards’ Martell Webster hit a jumper for a 26-21 lead at the start of the period. Each team competed well on the defensive end. The Wizards’ Jan Vesely was a prime example, getting a pair of steals in the quarter. He converted his first steal into a breakaway dunk for a 30-28 lead midway through the quarter.
Charlotte was able to exploit Washington’s interior defense for several layups in the quarter. The period ended with Washington leading 43-39 at the end of the half. Washington’s balanced offense saw Gortat, Beal and Wall each score eight points. Henderson led all scorers with 15 points in the half. One odd stat – neither team was credited with any fast break points in the half. Each team shot 43% from the field in the half.
On this night, the third quarter was a relief for Washington. The Wizards outscored the Bobcats 23-16 in the third, while showing a high level of defensive energy. For Washington’s offense, Wall scored five points in the period, while Gortat & Beal added four each. Charlotte’s Chris Douglas-Roberts hit a three to bring the Bobcats to within 47-45 at the 9:31 mark. The Wizards then went on a 17-0 run over the next six minutes. Trevor Booker scored eight in that streak, and Wall pitched in another five points. To their credit, the Bobcats fought back to close the margin to 66-55 going into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Henderson’s nine points and Walker’s seven led a valiant Charlotte effort. The Bobcats got back within seven points (88-81) on an Anthony Tolliver free throw with 2:14 left, but Washington’s closing 9-2 run sealed the deal. Wall’s four-of-four from the foul line in the last minute gave Washington a much-needed victory.
Washington shot 47.1% from the field, and accumulated 46 rebounds, 20 assists on 40 baskets, 7 steals, 7 turnovers and 8 blocked shots. (When a team gets
more blocked shots than turnovers, one might expect a successful night, no?) Beal led the team with 21 points. Marcin Gortat added 18 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in one of his more complete performances of the year. John Wall pitched in with 17 points and 8 assists.
Charlotte shot 43.1% from the floor, and totaled 38 rebounds, 19 assists on 31 baskets, 3 steals, 13 turnovers and 1 blocked shot. Gerald Henderson led all scorers with 27 points, while Kemba Walker added 19 points and 8 assists. The rest of the Bobcats’ roster shot 14-of-46 from the floor for the night (30.4%).
Washington now heads out to the second half of yet another back-to-back. Wednesday night, the team will take on the Pelicans in New Orleans before a Thursday night off. Then it’s off to Indiana (Friday, 10 January) before heading home to take on Houston (Saturday, 11 January). The Pelicans (15-17, prior to Tuesday’s game at Miami) are a handful, but on average they give up as many points as they score. They don’t mind getting up-and-down the floor, so Washington will have to make sure they get good shots in that higher tempo.
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