Wizards, Hornets tussle in pivotal game for both squads
The Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards meet for the second time in eight days as they compete for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The visiting Hornets (30-37) and the Wizards (29-39) are chasing the eighth-place Miami Heat.
Washington is 2-0 on a five-game homestand after Wednesday's 100-90 win over the Orlando Magic, another team chasing the No. 8 spot.
Bradley Beal scored 23 points, Thomas Bryant added 21 points and 10 rebounds and the Wizards outscored Orlando 24-16 in the fourth quarter.
"We fought, we didn't have everything going for us offensively, but I thought in that fourth quarter we did a good job," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "They only had four offensive rebounds in that second half."
Jabari Parker added 19 points and nine rebounds as the Wizards reserves outscored the Magic bench 59-20.
Bryant shot 9 of 12 from the field one day after a conversation with head coach Scott Brooks.
"It helped a lot. I went up to him after practice and I just wanted to figure out because I felt like I was playing horribly the last couple of games," Bryant said. "I obviously saw it myself and I know Coach Brooks saw and I just wanted to see what I can clear up and just try to help the team out, help myself out, just help him out as well."
The Hornets (30-37) have lost two straight and 12 of their past 16 following a 118-106 defeat in Houston on Monday night despite 40 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists from Kemba Walker.
Charlotte trailed by as many as 28 in the third quarter but cut the deficit to 13 at the start of the fourth. A three-point play by Walker cut the lead to 10 with about 3 1/2 minutes left before a 7-2 spurt by Houston made it 116-101 with about 90 seconds left.
The Hornets trailed by 19 after one quarter and 71-44 at halftime.
Frank Kaminsky had 15 points for Charlotte and second-year swingman Dwayne Bacon added 13.
"(Bacon) has performed well because of his ability to play both ends of the floor," Hornets coach James Borrego said. "He provides us more consistency on the defense end. He shows flashes of being able to score and get to the rim. ... I've been impressed with what he's done."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has missed two straight games with a strained left knee.
The Hornets lead the season series 2-1. When the teams played last Friday in Charlotte, Marvin Williams matched his career best of seven 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 30 points and the Hornets snapped a five-game home losing streak with a 112-111 win. Jeremy Lamb had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte and Walker added 18 points.
Bobby Portis had 23 points and nine rebounds for Washington. After a late Beal miss, Portis grabbed a rebound but his shot was blocked by Lamb. Portis was looking for a foul afterwards, but there was no call.
The next day, the NBA released its Last Two Minute Report that confirmed Portis was fouled by Williams while trying to rebound Beal's miss with 4.5 seconds left and should have gone to the line with Washington down one point.
Now Washington gets Charlotte at Capital One Arena, where the Wizards are 21-12, while the Hornets are 9-23 on the road.
"(Washington) is a high-powered offense," Borrego said. "We protected the paint the last time we played them. ... We were more aware of Bradley Beal's presence. ... We'll continue to throw bodies at him. He'll definitely be our focus on Friday night."
--Field Level MediaHome