The Washington Wizards (20-41) finally uncovered the not-so-secret formula for unraveling the Charlotte Bobcats (13-50) Saturday night in time to clinch their 15th victory at home this season with a 104-87 win.
Trevor Ariza led the charge – serving 35 minutes off the bench to notch a season-high 26 points on the night. Ariza added 10 rebounds and found his comfort zone from behind the arc, sinking five of eight three-point attempts including
Martell Webster followed suit by posting 20 points in 35 minutes of action – including four three-pointers – as part of the Wizards’ starting five.
In fact, aside from Kemba Walker – who scored 29 points for Charlotte – the Bobcats remained virtually silent.
“We’ve got to play a certain way,” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, Charlotte, Brooklyn… I don’t want these guys to look at a team as struggling. We’ve got to take care of business our way. I thought tonight we did that.”
Despite the fact they committed six turnovers in the first quarter alone – three by Nene and two by John Wall – the Wizards took control of the game early. Webster set the tone from the get-go, putting Washington on the board first and tallying five of the Wizards’ nine points in the first three and a half minutes of play.
Webster’s second three-pointer on the night put the Wizards on top 17-13 with just over 3:30 remaining in the first and Kevin Seraphin followed later with back-to-back shots, including a nifty put-back dunk to make it 27-22 Washington.
Early in the second quarter, A.J. Price stole the ball off Kemba Walker, opening up the opportunity for Nene to complete a behind-the-back pass to Trevor Ariza, who struck gold on the play with a running dunk to bring the Wizards to a 33-27 lead.
Within seven minutes of play in the second quarter, the Wizards jumped ahead to a 20-point lead, fueled by an 11-0 run, complete with a three-point play by Nene and yet another Webster three-pointer.
The Bobcats attempted to chip away, but they tried their hand at committing a host of turnovers – seven in the quarter, to be exact – and the Wizards took advantage to maintain control of the game. By the half, Washington had a solid grip on a 17-point lead.
Despite turning the ball over another five times in the third quarter, the Wizards added padding to their lead, which expanded to as many on 22 points in the first three minutes of the second half. Emeka Okafor and Nene each wowed the crowd with a dunk each and Charlotte appeared to have little hope of gaining ground.
In fact, the Wizards – namely, Wall – looked aggressive on defense, never quite opening the door for Charlotte to gain momentum.
In the fourth, however, the Bobcats showed some signs of life and pulled to within single-digits of catching the Wizards – that is, until Ariza had something to say about it.
With 7:30 remaining, Ariza sank a 26-footer to make it 88-74 Wizards. He went on to add the Wizards’ next nine points, which included another three-pointer as well as three consecutive free throws.
He added five more points of his own before the Wizards officially capped off their 104-87 win – and their first victory against the Bobcats this season.
“It was good just to get a win period,” Wall said. “After the losing the last two games and how everything ended [against the Brooklyn Nets], we wanted to come out and not let this one slip away. I think we did a great job of closing this one out, we kind of let [the Bobcats] come back in the game in the third quarter but we kept a decent enough lead.”