SportsWilliam J. Ford

Wizards’ Playoff Hopes Take Hit with Key Loss to Hornets

The Washington Wizards took a hard hit Friday with a 116-110 home loss to the Charlotte Hornets, wasting a 40-point performance by Bradley Beal and, more importantly, a chance to bolster its rapidly fading playoff chances.

Six Hornets scored in double figures, led by All-Star guard Kemba Walker, who confounded Washington with an array of crossover dribbles and spin moves en route to 28 points.

But Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said it was his team’s carelessness early in the game — 14 of their 17 turnovers came in the first half — that helped seal their fate.

“We gave them 27 [points] on turnovers,” he said. “I thought the rest of the game we were fighting.”

Washington (29-40) trailed most of the night and by as much as 21 late in the third quarter, but cut the deficit to six on a driving layup by rookie forward Troy Brown Jr. with 4:28 left in the game. But Charlotte (31-37) drained two straight 3-pointers to increase the lead to 113-101.

Wizards forward Jeff Green made two free throws to trim the Hornets lead to 113-108 with 1:56 left, but Washington couldn’t get any closer.

“They made shots. We weren’t on the same page and we left them get too comfortable,” said Green, who scored 20 points but turned the ball over five times.

The Hornets did seem relaxed behind the 3-point line, shooting 14-of-32, or 45 percent. Its reserves, who shot 7-for-14 from deep, also gave the Wizards fits, led by Jeremy Lamb’s 18 points and veteran point guard Tony Parker with 16 points in nearly 15 minutes.

Washington, which ranks fifth in the league in team assists, recorded 25 compared to Charlotte’s 18.

Washington also was out-rebounded 46-45, a trend that’s hurt the team all season.

“We’ve got to rebound,” Brooks said. “Everybody has to rebound.”

With 13 games left in the regular season, Washington trails the Miami Heat by 3½ games for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

The Wizards, currently sitting at 11th in the conference, would also have to leapfrog Charlotte and the Orlando Magic. The Hornets hold the tiebreaker over Washington after winning the head-to-head season series 3-1, while the Wizards took the season series with Orlando 2-1.

“If it goes down to the wire, we will definitely regret this,” said Wizards forward Jabari Parker, who notched a double-double off the bench with 17 points and 11 rebounds. “When we bite down and get at each other for the right reasons, that’s just because we want to be here. I like that.”

Washington finishes a rare home back-to-back set Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies (28-41). The team will wrap the five-game homestand Monday versus the Utah Jazz (39-29).

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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