Charlotte certainly played like a postseason contender during
closing time Wednesday.
Center Al Jefferson scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and
the surging Bobcats pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 98-85
victory over the Wizards at Verizon Center.
Charlotte went on a decisive 19-3 run in the fourth.
"It just shows you times are changing," said Jefferson, who joined
the Bobcats this season.
Guard Kemba Walker had 16 points and backcourt partner Gerald
Henderson added 13 for the Bobcats, who won for the fourth time in
"Just the opportunity to be playing to get into the playoffs,"
Walker said of the impetuous behind the Bobcats' improved play. "Now
that we have the opportunity, why not go and grab it.
"I think we're starting to realize that we're a really good team.
We're not the same Bobcats as (in) the past."
Charlotte's lone postseason in the franchise's 10 seasons came
during the 2009-10 campaign. Currently seventh in the Eastern
Conference, the Bobcats (31-34) won a combined 28 games the past two
Washington (33-31) is poised for its first playoff appearance since
2008. However, the loss combined with the Brooklyn Nets' road
victory over the Miami Heat dropped the Wizards into sixth place, a
half-game behind the Nets.
"We just didn't play well. I don't think we really competed today,"
Wizards center Marcin Gortat said. "I don't think we had the energy
that we used to have. On top of that, Brooklyn won. We're kind of
losing that (standing) we had."
Guard John Wall scored 23 points for the Wizards, though none came
in the fourth quarter. Washington lost its second game in a row and
fell to 16-16 at home this season.
Neither team led by more than six points until Charlotte took
control with 11 straight points in the final period.
After trailing 77-75 with 8:30 remaining, Charlotte soon jumped in
front for good on a free throw by forward Josh McRoberts and then
padded the lead on four consecutive free throws by Walker.
The final two followed a technical foul called against Wizards coach
Randy Wittman and put Washington behind 87-80 with 4:34 remaining.
Asked about his discussion with a referee that led to the technical,
Wittman deadpanned, "I had a bad roast beef sandwich today, and I
told him, 'Don't go to this deli that I went to.'"
Perhaps the real beef involved free-throw discrepancy. The Wizards
attempted only nine, making six. Charlotte shot 17-for-22 from the
[to top of second column]
Charlotte was whistled for 11 fouls, just two in the first half. The
Bobcats outrebounded Washington 44-37 before a crowd of 17,720.
Guard Bradley Beal scored 18 points for the Wizards. Gortat added 12
points and 10 rebounds.
Credit the defense for a chunk of Charlotte's turnaround under
first-year coach Steve Clifford. The Bobcats entered Wednesday fifth
in scoring defense. Washington, which shot 38.5 percent in the
second half and 42.7 percent for the night, averaged 111 points over
its previous seven games.
"I think they did a great job changing up what they were doing,
especially on me in pick-and-rolls," Beal said. "It kind of left me
in a daze in some moments of the game."
The Bobcats improved to 13-20 on the road. Last season, they won six
games away from home.
"Whole different story now. Two teams trying to get to the
playoffs," said Walker, who has played all of his three-year career
with the Bobcats. "It's good to see, especially for some of the guys
who have been here, who have been through the struggles of the
organization. It feels good to finally be playing for something and
racking up some wins."
NOTES: Charlotte G Gerald Henderson, who replaced Chris
Douglas-Roberts in the starting lineup, missed the previous five
games due to a strained right calf. ... Bobcats G Gary Neal did not
play for the Bobcats due to an internal team matter. Charlotte coach
Steve Clifford didn't elaborate postgame, but he said Neal would
play in the next game. ... Both teams shot 20 of 43 (46.5 percent)
from the field in the first half. ... Washington C Kevin Seraphin
was active after missing the previous seven games with a sore right
knee, but did not play. ...The Southeast Division foes meet two more
times this season: March 31 in Charlotte and April 9 in Washington.
... Charlotte hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, the same
day Washington plays at the Orlando Magic.
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.