Rapper Nelly sits courtside for Bobcats-Wizards
CHARLOTTE -- The streak is over, and the Wizards finally have their first win of 2014 by beating the Charlotte Bobcats, 97-83, at Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday night.
The Wizards (15-17) ended a three-game losing skid, all coming at Verizon Center, to begin this three-game road trip. It was their eighth road victory, already surpassing last season's total of seven when they won just 29 games. The Wizards have won of five of their last six road games.
It was a sluggish first half as both teams shot just 42.9%, but after Cody Zeller put Charlotte ahead 39-36 the Wizards closed with a 7-0 run going into halftime. And for the first time in four games, the Wizards came out after break to score more than 20 points in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 66-55.
Athough the Bobcats were able to trim the deficit to 88-81 on Anthony Tolliver's three-point play with 2:38 left in the fourth quarter, a jumper from Bradley Beal and a three-pointer by Martell Webster sealed the outcome.
The Wizards had four starters in double figures led by Beal with 21 on 10-for-18 shooting, his first 20-point game since returning from a right leg injury last month; Marcin Gortat with 18 points, John Wall's 17 and 12 from Trevor Booker. The bench contributed 25 points, led by 10 from Webster. Wall didn't have a turnover.
Turning point: The Wizards led 47-45 early in the third quarter and then went on a 17-0, 10 coming from an unlikely source in Booker, as the Bobcats were held four minutes without a field goal.
Best in show: Gortat. After having a bad stretch as a rebounder and defender, he was a difference-maker on both ends with his 11th double-double. His seven rebounds at the half were the most he'd had in six games. And he shut down Al Jefferson, forcing the Bobcats' center into airballs and second-guessing his moves to the bucket and contesting attackers at the rim. Jefferson was held to six points on 3-for-9 shooting and 10 rebounds. Gortat finished with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
Highlight reel: The pivotal run was inspired by Booker's lob to Wall for a dunk in transition. Wall then had a desperation three-pointer from about 33 feet, with the shot clock about to expire after Gortat mishandled his pass, for a 54-45 lead. And Jan Vesely's dunk in the second quarter isn't to be overlooked. He took off just inside the foul line -- for a moment it appeared he jumped too early -- for a throwdown.
Around the bend: The Wizards left for New Orleans after this game, where they'll play the Pelicans on Wednesday (CSN, 8 p.m. ET).
From the locker room: "We didn't start the game making shots but we never lost that bounce and fire. When you give yourself a chance you can turn a game around. That's what we did. Of course, only having seven turnovers was key but we had different guys give us a boost. Trevor Booker in the third quarter was great. He had solid play on both ends of the floor. Bradley Beal was good in the fourth quarter. Gortat, I told him that he could play Al Jefferson. He fought him all night long. He turned it into an 18-and-13 night. Overall it was a good effort." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman
"We went over a couple of things that we wanted to do in practice like moving the ball and we added facets to the game. After a missed or made shot we wanted to push the ball up the court. We did that and we got into a rhythm and we trusted each other. Book got hot in the third quarter and that got us on a roll. Then we just rolled with Brad down the stretch and he was making plays." -- Wall
"Collectively it was a great win. We kept our poise and we executed down the stretch." -- Webster
"We have great attitudes now. Everybody's happy. It's just something about the road that just makes us play better. We have to start protecting our home a little bit more." -- Beal
"We actually did a good job against their two biggest strengths. They're a good fast-breaking team and we did a good job with our transition defense and they're a good three-point shooting team and our three-point defense was good. We didn't play with the offensive energy level or strength. They were more physical than we were and that was the difference in the game." -- Bobcats coach Steve Clifford