Trevor Ariza had just nailed another 3-pointer to make the score 71-55 Wizards with 5:23 in the third quarter. It felt like the Washington Wizards controlled the game and would be clinching their first playoff appearance since the 2007-08 season. The only way they weren’t going to close out the game in Charlotte was if they had a complete meltdown. And sure enough, they had a meltdown.
The Wizards did not close out the third quarter well. They allowed the Bobcats to cut the lead to 10 heading into the fourth quarter and at that point I, along with many others on social media, just had the feeling that the Wizards weren’t going to make this easy.
It has been a franchise that has had minimal success in recent years and the biggest story line of the last 10 years was when a player brought a gun into a locker room. That’s just who the Wizards are. That is why the hashtag #SoWizards is used multiple times every game. While this season has been one of relative success and fun players, they still haven’t been able to get over the hump to become a team to really take seriously. And last night in Charlotte proved that.
The Wizards put together an absolute stinker in the fourth quarter. They were outscored 30-14, but it seemed even worse. The Bobcats got every loose ball and eight offensive rebounds in the quarter. Off those eight offensive rebounds the Bobcats scored 13 second-chance points. It was the difference in the game. For whatever reason, the Bobcats were a step quicker to every rebound. I am not going to challenge the player’s will because this is a team that has routinely played hard every night, but some nights you just don’t have the legs. The Bobcats also attacked the basket much more than the Wizards throughout the game. They shot 21 more foul shots than the Wizards for the game.
There were some bright spots in the game. The Wizards played one of their best quarters of basketball for the season in the second quarter. They outscored the Bobcats 40-19 and Bradley Beal was the only starter to play in the quarter. Coach Randy Wittman rode his bench in the quarter and rightfully so. Andre Miller put on a clinic in the quarter dropping eight assists to set up players all over the court. When Miller gets it going in the post against a smaller guard, he is so tough to stop because of his strength and craftiness. Kemba Walker found that out the hard way in this one.
But Walker had the last laugh. And this game was bigger than the Wizards not clinching the playoff spot last night. The Wizards currently are the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference while the Bobcats are seventh. With the win, the Bobcats are only two games back of the Wizards from the sixth seed. The difference between the sixth and seventh seed is huge. As the seventh seed, you are going to face the Heat or the Pacers. As a sixth seed, you would probably see the Toronto Raptors or the Bulls in the first round. Yeah, you want to avoid Miami and Indiana.
The Wizards will find their way in to the playoffs. Whether it is a sixth seed or seventh seed, they are getting in, barring a colossal letdown. However, it would have been nice to see them put away the Bobcats last night and just clinched that coveted playoff berth. Because you never know. After all, there is #SoWizards for a reason.