The Wizards were on cruise control tonight, enjoying a double digit lead for most of the game and clicking on just about every cylinder on offense. The front court players were the primary source of buckets and they looked poised all night. Nene had one of his stronger outings, finishing with 19 points and eight boards. Martell Webster, who had been quiet the past few games, was cooking from the field, scoring 20 points on 4-of-8 shooting from downtown. Ariza tallied his second double-double of the season and was also hot from long range as he knocked down five 3’s, finishing with 26 points to go with 10 rebounds.
John Wall also enjoyed a solid shooting performance that actually included a corner 3-pointer and several jump shots.
While the Wizards were efficiently getting the ball in the basket, the Bobcats weren’t as lucky. Kemba Walker did put up 29 points, but on 25 shot attempts as the Cats struggled offensively with only two other players in double figures. They shot just under 40% for the game.
And of course it wouldn’t be a complete Wizards game unless their opponent cut a 20-point deficit to nine in the 4th. The Bobcats trailed by 14 to start the final period but after a few Wizards missed shots and Ben Gordon jumpers, they were finally able to trim the Wiz lead to single digits.
Enter Trevor Ariza: who scored 14 points in the final 7 minutes of play to put Charlotte away for good. More on HIM below...
Trevor Ariza was just too good tonight. Although he was moved out of the starting lienup in favor of Garrett Temple, it payed off as Ariza showed his prowess off the bench, knocking down five 3-pointers and grabbing ten boards. For a player who’s always enduring fan scrutiny and has the habit to make bonehead plays, Ariza’s positive production is always pleasant to watch. It just seems to come at the right time, when the team needs it the most. His performance tonight, specifically in the 4th quarter was an example of that pleasure.
Martell Webster: While the backup small forward had one of his most productive performances of the season, we can’t forget about the starting 3 man. Webster was HOT right out the gates, starting 5-for-5 from the field including four 3-pointers. He had 14 by halftime and finished with 20 for the game.
Kemba Walker: Walker had a strong first half, going 7-for-13 from the field for 18 points. He found his spots on the floor and was able to move around screens well enough to lose his defender and either hit a jump shot or drive towards the rim. The Wizards put the clamps on him in the second half though where he shot only 4-for-12. He did finish with 29 points, but it wasn’t easy.
The bounce-back performance. Several players in the locker room claimed they don’t even remember the atrocity in Brooklyn the previous night. This was about as complete of a game the Wizards needed after two consecutive meltdowns against the Timberwolves and the Nets. They shot the ball consistently all throughout the game and much of that credit is due to the front-court. The combination of Nene, Ariza, Webster and even Kevin Seraphin combined for 48 of the Wizards 59 first half points. Despite a quiet second half, Nene was just nasty last night. He was feisty under the rim, pulling down a few offensive boards and was strong attacking the rim, plowing the ball into the net or drawing a foul.
Mek’s averageness. I guess I’ve been so spoiled by the emergence of Okafor this season that a mild 6-point/10-rebound game just doesn’t suffice. Emeka was a nonfactor in the first half especially, tallying zero points and just three rebounds, missing all four of his shot attemps. It’s all good, though - as mentioned before, the Wizards were getting production from so many different spots, from several different players that Okafor’s subpar performance was simply irrelevant. You're still good brah!
The Bobcats. Now, we're obviously no basket of fruits with just 20 wins but after 10 straight losses by the Bobcats, that team blows. The one downside to last night’s win for the Wizards was the fact that they didn’t help maintain the Bobcats’ average margin of loss during their 9-game slide (the Bobcats had lost those 9 games by an average of 22 points). That losing streak also featured three games in which the Cats lost by 30+ points. The Wizards (only) won by 17.