They were bumbling, breaking down and giving it away. A 19-point second-half lead appeared to be ample cushion for the Washington Wizards against a depleted Charlotte Bobcats team. But the Wizards have rarely been in positions of power on the road this season, and they showed that the prosperity was too much to handle, letting the lead eventually get whittled down to six in a matter of minutes.
What should've been an easy victory turned into a hard-fought battle, but the Wizards proved to have more than enough with rookie Jordan Crawford confidently stemming the initial run with a series of crucial, long jumpers and Andray Blatche providing the finishing touches, continuing his dominance on the glass and scoring inside. Blatche had a team-high 25 points and added 17 rebounds, while Crawford scored 23 points as the Wizards claimed their third road win and won consecutive games away from Verizon Center for the first time this season, 97-91, at Time Warner Cable Arena.
"We're just doing better when it gets tough and in hard-nosed situations," said John Wall, who scored 18 points and handed out five assists in his return from a one-game suspension, following an altercation with Miami Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. "It was good for us to get a win. We're learning how to keep playing and keep fighting."
For one of the few times this season, the Wizards (20-56) entered a road arena possessing, perhaps, the much better team. The Bobcats, consigned to the fact that their playoff hopes were slowly becoming a pipe dream, were down to just nine healthy players and missing leading scorer Stephen Jackson. They had few offensive options outside of D.J. Augustin (21 points) but Matt Carroll provided a surprising spark off the bench, scoring 17 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
The Wizards never really stopped Carroll until Wall denied his final layup attempt in the closing seconds, with a vicious block that he celebrated by jumping into Blatche before walking off the court, victorious for the first time as a professional in his home state.
Blatche gave the Wizards a 69-50 lead with 5 minutes 4 seconds left in the third quarter, but that lead quickly evaporated. Wall made a free throw to put the Wizards ahead by 16 with 23.7 seconds remaining in the period, but they started to collapse from there. Augustin made a driving layup to bring Charlotte within 76-62, then Yi Jianlian had a terrible sequence in the final 6.3 seconds. He made a bad pass ahead to Wall that Augustin scooped up. Then Yi fouled Augustin as he made a layup. After Augustin made the free throw to bring Charlotte within 11, Wall tried to attempt a last-second heave but dribbled the ball off Yi's foot.
Blatche helps Washington pick up another road win
Washington Post | Apr 4