The good teams beat the bad teams.
The teams looking to improve should beat the bad teams.
Tonight, not even the high emotions of impressive home wins and John Wall’s league award could inspire the Wizards, as they dropped a contest to the NBA’s worst team, 119-114.
Much like Washington’s most recent road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wizards’ bench did not contribute enough, offensively and defensively, to keep pace with Charlotte. The Bobcats’ bench spelled their starters very well with excellent performances by Ben Gordon, Byron Mullens, and Wizards cast-off Jannero Pargo.
Washington played better in the second half, but surrendered Bobcats runs late in both the 3rd and 4th quarters, which would prove too difficult to overcome.
The Wizards have not won on the road since February 25, 2013 against the Toronto Raptors.
Tonight’s Wizards MVP was Nene. Nene outplayed his Bobcats counterparts with a nice combination of inside scoring and jumpers just outside the paint. His footwork was excellent, as he was able to maneuver through the paint for a few hard slams.
Although hampered late in the game due to foul trouble, Nene would go on to register 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
John Wall: John Wall, coming off the best week of his career, played well, albeit in limited minutes due to foul trouble. Wall strung together some key plays in the 4th quarter that gave Washington a 5 point lead, including a few trips to the free throw line. While he struggled with some turnovers down the stretch and fouled out, the current Eastern Conference Player of the Week had a respectable game.
Wall finished with 25 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Kemba Walker: Kemba played well tonight, shooting 8-14 from the floor on his way to 18 points. He continues to show why he’s a true scoring threat each night, as he used his quickness very early to get through the lane, and later his range to bury long jumpers that would contribute to Charlotte’s game-sealing run.
Kemba also added 7 assists and 3 steals.
Garrett Temple had possibly his best shooting performance as a Wizard, as he connected on 6-for-8 from the floor for 17 points. Temple made a series of difficult jumpers and tough layups on a night when Brad Beal was a virtual non-factor off the bench. Temple also made consecutive three-pointers early in the 4th quarter that gave Washington a 99-96 lead.
As mentioned, also, Nene was spectacular. His performance tonight gives Wizards fans lots of optimism about his future with the team. When he’s playing well, he’s among the league’s top tier of big men.
Washington’s bench again did not play a role in this game. Already short-handed with the injury to A.J. Price, and Chris Singleton not logging minutes due to personal reasons (presumably), the Wizards lacked the punch in their second unit to match pace with a Bobcats bench that got confident early.
Charlotte’s Ben Gordon and Jannero Pargo combined for 30 points, and Byron Mullens added 12.
Washington’s top bench scorer was Trevor Ariza with 7 points. Brad Beal, still finding his spots coming off the injury, added only 5 points and picked up 5 fouls.
Randy Wittman clearly needs to explore other options with his rotations, but it’s hard to determine where he’ll find answers.
Defense was not at a premium tonight, as the Wizards allowed a 14-win team to score essentially unchallenged on several possessions. The Bobcats shot 53% from the floor in the game, including 40% from 3 point range.
The Bobcats are 27th in the NBA in total points per game, averaging 92.7; however, they scored 119 tonight, including 61 in the first half. Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, and Byron Mulllens all scored above their averages, as overall defensive effort, inside and outside, was poor.