By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards begin a four game road trip tonight in Charlotte as they take on the Bobcats for the final time this season (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Wizards are 1-2 against the Bobcats this season but won handily when they met two weeks ago in D.C.
The Wizards are on a three game win streak as they took care of the Bucks, Hornets, and Suns at home last week. John Wall may have had his best offensive week of his career, as he averaged 24.0 points, 11.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals. He shot .617 (37-of-60) from the field, .800 (4-of-5) from three-point range and .857 from the free-throw line (18-of-21).
Bradley Beal returned to the lineup on Saturday night after missing six games with a sprained ankle. He played 20 minutes off the bench and scored 13 points and grabbed six boards. But the story of Saturday night's game was Martell Webster, who scored a career-high 34 points and knocked down seven three-pointers. Webster is averaging 21.8 points over his last five games and ranks third in the NBA in three-pointers made in 2013.
When these teams met two weeks ago, the Wizards routed the Bobcats, 104-87. Trevor Ariza led the Wizards with 26 points and 10 boards in that game, but he is listed as questionable tonight with a knee injury. He did not play on Saturday night and will likely be a gametime decision tonight. A.J. Price is also listed as questionable tonight as he nurses a sore groin.
Although the Wizards had no trouble beating the Bobcats in that game, Kemba Walker gave them trouble as he scored 29 points on 11-25 shooting. The Bobcats are not blessed with a lot of offensive weapons, but Walker can score with the best of them and will be someone the Wizards focus on tonight.
The Bobcats started the season 7-5, but since then are 7-47 and have really struggled as of late. They have just one win in their last 14 games and their 109.0 defensive rating ranks last in the NBA. Since their last meeting with the Wizards, the Bobcats added Jannero Pargo who started this season with the Wizards. He scored 18 points in the Bobcats loss to the Celtics on Saturday night.
The Wizards have really struggled on the road this season (5-25), but have a chance to improve on that mark with games against the Bobcats and Suns to start this trip. If they can bring their hot shooting that we saw at Verizon Center last week with them on the road, look for them to continue this current win streak with a win over the Bobcats tonight.
The action gets going at 7:00pm.
The first two times these teams met, the Wizards were missing Wall. Since John Wall's return, the Wizards are 18-14 and their offense has improved dramatically. Wall became the first NBA player since the three-point era began (1979-80 season) to average at least 24 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, two steals, shoot at least .600 from the field, .800 from three-point range and .850 from the free-throw line in a four game span. It has been his jump shot that has really been the difference over the last week, which has made him nearly unguardable for opposing defenders.
Kemba Walker has been the Bobcats leader all year, averaging 17.2 points per game and 5.6 assists against 2.3 turnovers. Walker has certainly developed a fair reputation as a shoot first point guard and he has proved that this year by taking almost 15 shots per game. He has improved as a distributor though, averaging over an assist more in his sophomore campaign. Walker has an extremely quick first step and can break down defenses on his own. Walker is consider a solid defender, but Wall has a nice size advantage that he should be able to take advantage of. Knowing that Walker is trigger happy, Wall's task will be making sure that those looks are not the ones that Walker wants and making sure Walker is as uncomfortable as possible on the offensive end.
In the following clip, Wall hangs in the air for a monster swat.
In this clip, Wall gets the steal and the finish.