- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nicolas Batum is finally healthy after dealing with an injured toe for the past four weeks.

That was good news for the Charlotte Hornets, as Batum stepped up with a double-double on Saturday night in a 108-104 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Batum had 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Hornets rallied in the second half to win for the third time in the past four games.

“I wasn’t myself for the last four weeks, so I’ve been trying to get back to where I was before the toe injury,” said Batum, who missed eight of Charlotte’s past 18 games with a strained right toe.

“I want to get back to the way I played the first 30 games. The past two or three games, I’ve been feeling much better.”

Kemba Walker added 23 points, Marvin Williams also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Spencer Hawes scored 14 points for the Hornets, who trailed by as many as 19 points in the second quarter.

John Wall scored 23 points, Bradley Beal had 22 off the bench, and Otto Porter scored 20 for the Wizards, who have lost three of their past four games.

After battling through five lead changes and five ties, the last at 25-25 at the end of the first quarter, Washington took advantage of Charlotte’s shooting problems in the second quarter to open up a big lead.

The Hornets made just three of 16 shots over the first 10 minutes of the period, while the Wizards were 12-for-21. That allowed Washington to pull ahead by 19 points twice, the last at 57-38 on two free throws by Ramon Sessions with 1:57 left.

Charlotte went on its own shooting tear over the final 94 seconds. Batum, who had 17 first-half points, hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-1 run to close out the period and cut Washington’s lead to 10 points.

“The way we started, we were thinking too much about last night,” Batum said, referring to Charlotte’s 98-95 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday. “That was a tough one for us. We couldn’t be worse than what we were in the second quarter. It was a wake-up call.”

The Wizards led, 64-52, with 8:44 left in the quarter, but the Hornets went on to outscore Washington, 26-11, over the rest of the period for a 78-75 lead.

Marcin Gortat had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Jared Dudley scored 10 points.

“You have to learn how to play with a lead, and we don’t do it well enough right now,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “It’s happened a number of times. Last night [against the Philadelphia 76ers], we were up 25 and let it get to eight. Tonight, its 19 and then we give up 60 in the second half.”

Washington rallied in the fourth quarter, swapping the lead four times with Charlotte before Walker’s layup with 2:13 remaining put the Hornets ahead to stay.

“We had a lot more fight tonight than we did last night,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “We made good plays there at the end of the game. We had lulls, obviously, and the first half we weren’t good, but that last 1:45 of the first half might have been the biggest part of the game.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide