Bobcats-Wizards Preview

Now that they’ve traded Gilbert Arenas, the Washington Wizards

are looking forward to a future centered around rookie star John


It’s uncertain, however, when Wall will be back on the floor to

assume the role of franchise centerpiece.

While Wall could miss a fourth straight game with knee

tendinitis, Rashard Lewis is expected to make his Wizards debut

when Washington looks to end a seven-game skid Monday night against

the Charlotte Bobcats.

Washington (6-19) fell 95-94 to Miami on Saturday. Before the

game, the Wizards traded Arenas, who led the team to four straight

playoff appearances from 2005-08 but had become a distraction due

to off-court issues, to Orlando for Lewis.

“We’re totally in a rebuild,” coach Flip Saunders said. “We’ve

said that. We were in a situation where we had three of our top

players play pretty much the same position in John and Gilbert and

Kirk (Hinrich).”

The first overall pick in the draft, Wall is the future in

Washington, but the guard has played in only 15 of 25 games due to


When healthy, he has been outstanding, averaging 16.7 points,

8.9 assists and 2.3 steals.

“No one’s going to ask us whose team it is,” Saunders said.

“It’s his team, and so that comes with a lot of responsibility. The

critics who thought that Gilbert would hinder his development,

that’s not gong to be brought up any more.”

It’s not certain when Wall will return, but Washington expects

to have Lewis in the lineup Monday after he didn’t arrive in time

for Saturday’s contest. The 13-year veteran is averaging 12.2

points – his lowest in 11 seasons – and 4.2 rebounds.

The forward joins a Wizards team that has averaged 91.6 points

and shot 41.2 percent over the last five losses. Washington went 3

for 6 at the free-throw line in the final 20 seconds Saturday,

allowing the Heat to take their only lead of the fourth quarter on

Dwyane Wade’s two foul shots with 7.9 seconds to play.

“We probably played as hard as we have all year,” said Hinrich,

who went 1 of 2 at the line during that stretch. “I felt we should

have won the game, and to cough it up like that, it’s hard to

swallow for sure.”

The Bobcats (9-17) have suffered similar letdowns recently,

losing eight in a row on the road, the most recent a 90-85 defeat

to Atlanta on Friday in which they shot 37.9 percent.

After scoring 80 points in a defeat two nights earlier at

Memphis, Charlotte didn’t play much better against the Hawks. Boris

Diaw and D.J. Austin each scored 22 points on 19-of-34 shooting,

but no other Bobcats player had more than nine points and the rest

of the team shot 26.4 percent.

However, coach Larry Brown thought his team had a much better

performance than it did against the Grizzlies.

“We played hard but didn’t shoot the ball well,” he said. “But

the effort was great and they gave us a chance tonight. No matter

who you play against, that’s all I ever ask for.”

It didn’t help that forward Gerald Wallace sat out a second

straight game with a sprained left ankle. He is doubtful for


Charlotte hasn’t lost nine straight on the road since Jan.

30-Feb. 29, 2008. It has won nine of 10 against the Wizards, taking

the most recent meeting 93-85 at the Verizon Center on Nov. 12.