After coming back from a double-digit deficit and gaining a 16 point advantage of their own, it looked like the Washington Wizards were on their way to clinching a spot in the postseason with a win over the Charlotte Bobcats. Of course, nothing comes easy in the NBA and the Wizards took their foot off the pedal and Charlotte eventually dug themselves out of the hole, regaining an advantage late in the fourth quarter. Led by Chris Douglas-Roberts and Al Jefferson, Charlotte sneaked past the Wizards and spoiled their chances of securing a playoff spot tonight, 100-94.
Washington’s starters struggled tonight–particularly John Wall. Instead of coming out with aggressiveness, ready to take control of the game, Wall turned the ball over multiple times right out of the gate and never really gained a rhythm. He made just 4 of his 16 shot attempts and virtually none of his shots came within the flow of the offense. He settled for jump shots when he had lanes to drive, couldn’t finish around the basket and continued to force shots instead of getting his teammates going. Wall dished out just 6 assists tonight, but negated it with 5 turnovers. Overall, it was a really bad night for Wall. Tonight’s game was important and he has to do a better job of coming out more focused, especially since any game from this point on has playoff implications.
Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal both has good nights shooting the ball, combining 12 for 21 made shots. Beal made 8 of his 12 attempts and actually looked to score inside, instead of constantly taking long twos. It’s been a while since Beal shot the ball well, so it was good to see him actually look comfortable on the court. Besides that, he was the only starter to not have a negative +/- tonight.
Andre Miller, Al Harrington, Drew Gooden and Martell Webster helped extend Washington’s lead in the second quarter off the bench. I’m always impressed by how good Miller is at managing the game, but tonight might’ve been his best performance since joining the Wizards. He scored 4 points to go along side 9 assists and the Bobcats had no answer for him in the first half. Whenever he got the ball in the post, he commanded double teams and found his teammates off cuts and lobs to the basket. He played just 19 minutes tonight and given how bad Wall was, Miller probably should’ve gotten more playing time.
Al Harrington and Martell Webster shot a combined 9 for 12 off the bench, and helped spark the Wizards in the first half. Washington hasn’t had reliable scoring from their second unit in a long time, so it was nice to see Webster and Harrington give them some help.
Washington has taken one step forward with wins against the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks, but have taken two steps back with a loss against Charlotte tonight. They’ve dropped way too many leads this season and it doesn’t seem as if they’ve learned from their prior mistakes. John Wall has to do a better job of contributing when his shot isn’t falling, but at the end of the day, it’s a team effort. The Wizards didn’t bring the same intensity as they did against the Pacers last week, even though tonight’s game was arguably more important. Instead of clinching a postseason spot with a victory, the Wizards will have to rely on the Utah Jazz to beat the New York Knicks tonight or wait until Wednesday to face the Boston Celtics.