WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Wizards are one of the few NBA teams who can actually call the Charlotte Bobcats a nemesis, and that’s nothing to brag about.
So the Wizards had no problem finding the motivation to become the latest team to beat up on the worst club in the league. They never trailed Saturday night in a 104-87 victory, Charlotte’s 10th straight loss.
“They beat us two times on the season,” said Nene, who scored 19 points, “so we needed to step up.”
Trevor Ariza scored a season-high 26 points as Washington shot 50 percent against a team that hasn’t played very much competitive basketball lately. The Bobcats have been outscored by an average of 21.5 points during the 10-game skid.
But the Wizards had been 0-2 against the Bobcats, dropping both games back in November when Charlotte was actually toying with the idea of a respectable season. Washington has remained near the bottom of the league as well, sitting 13th in the 15-team Eastern Conference.
“Don’t talk to me about slumps,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “I don’t want to hear anything about that. We’ve all been there. I’ve been there, you’ve been there. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, Charlotte, Brooklyn, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want these guys looking at `This is a team that is struggling.’ We’ve got to take care of business our way, and I thought we did that tonight.”
Kemba Walker scored 29 points for the Bobcats, who were done in by their 5-for-17 shooting from the field in the second quarter. Charlotte did manage to cut a 22-point, third-quarter deficit down to nine early in the fourth, but Ariza made a pair of 3-pointers to restore the Wizards’ comfortable lead.
Nene worked the inside, Martell Webster hit from long range, and backup point guard A.J. Price supplied the assists as the Wizards surged in the second period. Nene’s driving one-handed dunk put Washington ahead by 19 on the way to a 59-42 halftime lead.
Webster finished with 20 points, and Nene had 19. John Wall added 13 points and six assists for Washington, and Price contributed six assists. Ariza and Emeka Okafor each had 10 rebounds as Washington controlled the boards 45-32.
Josh McRoberts, acquired from the Orlando Magic in a trade last month, got his first start with the Bobcats. Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said he went with McRoberts over Byron Mullins to get more rebounds, but McRoberts had only two in 22 minutes.
After another loss, it was all Dunlap could do to keep from sounding like a broken record.
“It’s like herding cats sometimes,” the coach said. “But there’s an overview of what you’re trying to do, and when you’re not eligible for the playoffs, then it’s about development, it’s about a system, it’s about, as the Wizards would say, having the attitude that you have something at stake. These guys are pros, and they understand that. You can’t fake it.”
NOTES: Wall made a 3-pointer for only the second time all season. He’s now 2 for 18 behind the arc. … Wizards G Bradley Beal missed his third consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. … The Bobcats played their second straight game without G Ramon Sessions, who is expected to be sidelined two to four weeks with a sprained left knee.