Coming off of a loss to the Miami Heat on Monday, where John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 59 points, the Wizards looked to turn things around at home facing the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets are above .500 with a record of 14-12 now, after losing to the Wizards in a nail biter that came down to the last shot by Kemba Walker. The Hornets are currently sitting in first place in the Southeast Division while the Wizards are now third with a record of 10-14 following the win.
Throughout many games in the beginning of the season the Wizards have either had the lead going into halftime or have been within arm’s reach of their opponents. If the Wizards could hold on to the leads they have when they’re closing quarters or when they’re closing the game, their record would be much better than what it is. They’ve lost a few close games where it seemed like they just ran out of gas once their opponent took the lead.
Kelly Oubre Jr. got to start against the Hornets while Markieff Morris sat out with a sore foot. This was Oubre’s first start of the season and he responded well with 15 points on 7-12 shooting in the game. In the first quarter the Hornets came out shooting 67% from the field but only found themselves up by four points with a score of 30-26. John Wall got off to a good start and had eight points in the first quarter.
In the second quarter neither team went up by a large margin and at halftime the score was 54-49 with the Wizards trailing. Nicolas Batum had 14 points and 7 assist after two quarters and the Hornets were still shooting above 50%. From beyond the arc the Hornets shot 6-15 in the first half while the Wizards struggled finding the basket going just 1-8. Beal struggled from the field as he was 0-6 with his only two points coming from free throws, but he turned things around in the second half. When the starters went out to rest, the bench players gave them quality minutes and kept the game close. Jason Smith contributed to eight points, Marcus Thornton added five points, and Trey Burke tacked on an additional four.
Early in the third quarter the Wizards trailed by 10 points but that wouldn’t last long. Beal caught fire from deep and Wall got some key steals that led to fast break points and they found themselves up by eight with little over three minutes left in the quarter. Wall became the all-time leader for career steals in Washington (763) when he got a steal from Marco Belinelli that led to a lay-up for Otto Porter. The Wizards went up by ten to end the third quarter with Beal scoring 11 points alone in the quarter. Washington outscored the Hornets 38-23 as well in the quarter and improved their shooting percentage to just under 54%.
The Wizards saw their lead slip away in the fourth quarter. Belinelli hit some big three’s and the lead was down to single digits early. The Wizards would keep the lead but the game was close coming down to the wire. With a little over a minute left in regulation Wall hit a big mid-range jumper to give the Wizards a four-point lead, with under a minute left he would come back down and score a tough lay-up to push the lead to six.
However, the Hornets still had some fight left in them. After an easy dunk by Cody Zeller, Beal knocked down two clutch free throws to push the score to 108-102. Walker came back down the other end and scored a lay-up, and after trapping Wall in the corner on the in-bounds play and getting the steal the Hornets scored again, pulling within two points. Wall would go 1-2 from the free throw line after being fouled and the Hornets still had a chance to tie the game, but Batum would come up short on his 3-point attempt. Walker was able to get to the loose ball and make his way behind the three-point line to put up one last shot but it rattled in and out, and the Wizards escaped with the win by a score of 109-106. All of the Wizards starters were in double digits along with Smith who added 12 points off the bench.
Points in paint: The Wizards dominated inside with over half of their points coming from inside the paint (56). On the other hand, The Hornets only managed to score 28 points in the paint, half of what the Wizards put up.
Steals: As mentioned before John Wall became the all-time leader for career steals in Washington with 763, he had a total of seven steals on the night and the Wizards as a team had 15. Meanwhile the Hornets only had seven steals as a team.
Shooting from beyond the arc: The Wizards struggled when it came to three-point shooting. They went 5-18 which is about 27%. This is an area where the Wizards struggle offensively still. The Hornets shot better from three, connecting on 14 of their 33 attempts with Belinelli going 4-6 from deep.
Charity strike: The Wizards shot above 80% from the free throw line going 14-17 as a team, but John Wall missed a key free throw in the closing seconds that could have put them up by four points. The Hornets went 16-21 putting them at about 76% as a team. The Wizards were more efficient in that area for the night.
Rebounds: Both teams had over 40 rebounds and they were almost equally matched in the defensive rebound area with the Wizards accounting for 29 and the Hornets with 28. On the offensive glass is where the Wizards did damage as they had 12 offensive rebounds while the Hornets only had five. For the “team rebound” stat the Hornets had 9 while the Wizards only had 3.