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Beal helps Wizards overcome slow start to top sloppy Bobcats

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The Canadian Press
1/7/2014 10:58:23 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After a listless first half, the Washington Wizards used a big third quarter run to beat the Charlotte Bobcats

Bradley Beal scored 21 points and the Wizards used a 17-0 run in the third quarter to take control of what had been a close game and beat the Bobcats 97-83 on Tuesday night.

John Wall helped ignite the decisive run. First he dunked off an alley-oop dunk pass from Booker and then when he grabbed a loose ball as the 24-second shot clock wound down and hit a 3-point shot from 35 feet at the shot-clock buzzer.

Of the dunk off the high pass from Booker, Wall said: "We try them in practice sometimes. He'll be thinking he's a point guard sometimes, so I just told him to throw it up and he put it on the money."

Marcin Gortat added 18 points for the Wizards, who improved to 15-17, while Wall contributed 17 points, Trevor Booker 12 and Martell Webster 10.

Gortat added 12 rebounds and also stopped Al Jefferson, holding Charlotte's centre to just six points.

"I always feel good playing against Al and it's a huge challenge for me also," Gortat said. "He's a very difficult player to guard and very smart. I remember all the battles back in the West where he played for Utah and I played for Phoenix and we always battled every year for at least four times. I kind of learned to play against him. I know how to play against him and I was really focused."

Gerald Henderson scored a season-high 27 points to lead the Bobcats, but questioned his own defensive intensity -- and that of his teammates on both ends of the court -- in the lacklustre defeat for Charlotte, which fell to 15-21 overall and 8-11 at home. Kemba Walker added 19 points and Ramon Sessions was the only other Bobcat to score in double figures with 10.

"Coming into the game, it was a game where we really thought we could get back on track," Henderson said. "We beat Sacramento (on the road) in our previous game, but we just didn't come up with the plays. We got down in the third quarter and couldn't come back.

"We didn't play with a lot of intensity on either end tonight. We lost track of them in that third quarter, and we didn't really play with a lot of force offensively, either. ... I feel like I could have played a lot better defence on Beal and some of their other perimeter players."

The same couldn't be said for the Bobcats, who were coming off a 1-4 road trip.

"The toughest game is the first game after a long road trip," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "It comes down to will, mental toughness and how bad you want to win."

The Wizards led 43-39 after a listless first half, during which both teams shot just under 43 per cent from the field.

Henderson scored 11 of Charlotte's first 13 points in the first six minutes of the game, but then proceeded to miss six of his last seven shots in the first half. He was the only player from either team to reach double figures in scoring in the opening half with 15.

The Bobcats were particularly inept on offence in the opening half, missing half of their 12 free-throw attempts while failing to register any fast-break or second-chance points.

Yet the game remained close, with the Bobcats pulling to within 47-45 on a 3-pointer by Chris Douglas-Roberts with 9:32 left in the third quarter, before the Wizards conjured up their 17-0 run. The Bobcats were down 19, 64-45, before they scored again on a pair of free throws by Anthony Tolliver.

From there, the Bobcats furiously attempted to rally. But the closest they could come was to within 88-81 on a 3-point play by Tolliver with 2:14 remaining. Beal immediately answered with a jumper for the Wizards, who then went on to close the game with a 9-2 run.

The Wizards held a 46-38 rebounding advantage and a 28-18 edge on points in the paint, led by Gortat.

"He took the challenge and came out and played," Wall said of Gortat. "For some reason when we hit the road we find the way to play the best way we need to play and find a way to win these games."

Notes: The Wizards have won five in a row against East teams on the road. ... Gortat had his 11th double-double of the season. ... Jefferson had his streak of double-figure games snapped at 22. He had scored a season-high 27 points on Saturday against Sacramento.

Bradley Beal (Photo: Kent Smith/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Kent Smith/Getty Images)
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