Undermanned Wizards best even more-undermanned Bobcats

The Wizards prevailed 97-91 over the Charlotte Bobcats Sunday, earning their third road win of the season, and beginning only their second winning streak of the season. Andray Blatche led the team with 25 points and 17 rebounds, and Jordan Crawford had 23 points.

The Wizards were again without Nick Young, Rashard Lewis, Trevor Booker, and Hamady N’Diaye who was a late scratch due to aggravating an injury during warm-ups (Cartier Martin was essentially out as well, as he wasn’t expected to play but entered the game and was pulled after 3 minutes). Although the Bobcats were chasing a playoff spot, however, in this game, they were the inferior team. Charlotte was without Shaun Livingston, Stephen Jackson, Tyrus Thomas, and Eduardo Najera; the fact that Dominick McGuire and Kwame Brown played 62 minutes between them and totaled 4 points (all by McGuire) speaks volumes.

The Wizards played like the better team too. They won each of the game’s 1st three quarters, held a comfortable for much of the game, up 19 at one point, and were dominant on the boards for a second game in a row. They won the rebounding battle 50 to 39, and again had a large advantage on the offensive boards, 16 to Charlotte’s 7. Also, in accord with their recent play, they had only 12 turnovers. Both of these developments – the Wizards as a good rebounding team with respectable turnover numbers – speak to not only the effort they’ve shown but also their discipline. And while their shot-selection could easily be questioned, the fervor with which they’ve been attacking the offensive glass has allowed them to extend possessions and their opportunities to core.

Some hot shooting by Bobcats guard Matt Carroll along with some defensive lapses threatened the lead that the Wizards had worked so hard to build. Carroll finished with 26 points, and even once Washington started paying him more attention, he continued to hit difficult shots over defenders. It also didn’t help that Washington sent one of the league’s top free-throw shooters, DJ Augustine (90% on the year), to the line nine times; he made eight. The Wizards almost let a 19-point lead get away, but they didn’t fall apart.

Game notes: I expected John Wall to have a great game fresh off of his suspension. He didn’t seem to, but in truth he had a very efficient 18 points on 12 shots, 5 assists and 5 rebounds. He also led all players in plus/minus with a +15…Washington shot terribly in the first quarter, 7-26 for 26%, but shot 51% over the game’s final three quarters to finish with 44%…in that first quarter, though, they rebounded 42% of their misses (for an estimable 34% offensive rebound rate), grabbing eight offensive rebounds on their 19 missed shots…on the game’s final possession, with Charlotte having no possible chance to win or tie, John Wall swatted Matt Carroll’s shot attempt and saluted his home-town Charlotte crowd as the buzzer expired.

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