Bobcats Top Wizards in OT, Take Inside Track on 6th Seed
WASHINGTON — Kemba Walker made the only field goal for either team in overtime, and the Charlotte Bobcats won their fifth straight Wednesday night and moved into position for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 94-88 over the Washington Wizards.
Walker made a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in the extra session, and Al Jefferson added two free throws to account for all of the Bobcats’ post-regulation scoring. Charlotte went 1 for 7 from the field, while Washington was 0 for 8 and got its only point from a free throw by John Wall with 34 seconds remaining.
Jefferson finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds, and Walker had 17 points and 12 assists, for the Bobcats, who have their longest winning streak since March 2010 — the only other season the franchise has made the playoffs.
The win left the Bobcats and Wizards both at 40-38 with four games remaining, but Charlotte won the season series 3-1 and therefore holds the tiebreaker. Both teams want to stay out of seventh or eighth to avoid a first-round series against the two conference powerhouses, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
Wall had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, and Marcin Gortat finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who rallied from a 20-point, first-half deficit but are limping toward the finish line of their first playoff season since 2008.
Gortat pinballed through the paint to get the Wizards a two-point lead with 9.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Walker fed Jefferson for a layup that tied the game with 3.2 seconds remaining. Wall didn’t get a shot off as time expired in regulation.
The Wizards got a mixed boost from the return of Nene, who was back after missing six-plus weeks with a sprained left knee. He looked rusty, missed all four of his free throws and finished with 10 points in 17 minutes.
Wall, who made a whirlwind overnight trip on Texas on Monday to watch Kentucky lose the NCAA championship game, went 6 for 18 from the field and committed five turnovers. Trevor Ariza, who has been battling the flu, was 0 for 6. The Wizards went 1 for 15 from 3-point range.
Before an underwhelming crowd — playoff fever has yet to grip the nation’s capital — the Wizards again made defense optional in the early going, echoing their beatdown by the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. In the final minute of the first quarter, Gary Neal drove down the middle and met no resistance to put in a floater with 13 seconds left. At the other end, the Wizards couldn’t even get off a shot as time expired.
The Bobcats led by 20 in the second quarter and by 13 at halftime, but the Wizards rediscovered defense in the third quarter, forcing Charlotte into three straight turnovers and nearly a fourth on a shot clock violation. Meanwhile, Washington made seven straight shots to get back into the game.
The Wizards cut the lead to one five times before finally taking their first lead of the game on Bradley Beal’s 15-foot jumper with 5:28 to play.
Notes: It was Wall’s third career triple-double and second this season. … Charlotte has its longest winning streak since claiming six in a row from March 5-14, 2010. … Bobcats F Josh McRoberts returned after missing three games with a sprained left ankle.
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