- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2005

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Any momentum the Washington Wizards were hoping to gain from perhaps their biggest victory of the season disappeared last night.

With Gerald Wallace channeling Michael Jordan on the way to 26 points and 14 rebounds and Kareem Rush scoring 13 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, the Charlotte Bobcats notched their first victory over the Wizards 100-82 before 17,791 at Bobcats Arena.

A night earlier, the Wizards (6-7) escaped the Palace of Auburn Hills with a double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons that ended a five-game losing streak and seemed destined to fix the Wizards’ recent problems.

Instead, last night Washington committed a season-high 21 turnovers, which the Bobcats converted into 25 points.

The Wizards’ point total was their lowest of the season and the fewest any Bobcats opponent has scored this season. The 18-point victory was the third largest in Charlotte history. And no Bobcats opponent this season has shot worse than the Wizards’ 39.5 percent.

That left the Wizards’ locker room as dismal as it has been all season.

“This is the [expletive] NBA, man,” grumbled Gilbert Arenas, no doubt displeased with his season-low 11 points, five assists and six turnovers. “I’m not going to take we are tired. We didn’t play hard; we didn’t play smart. We played like some [expletive]. They outrebounded us, outhustled us. We didn’t lose; we got our [butts] whipped.”

After the improbable win at Detroit — a game in which both Arenas and Antawn Jamison played more than 53 minutes — the foul weather in Michigan forced the Wizards to sit on the airport tarmac in Pontiac for more than two hours. As a result, the already road-weary Wizards — who were playing their fourth game in five nights — didn’t check into their hotel rooms until around 3a.m. yesterday morning.

The Wizards, however, didn’t want to use that as an excuse.

“Right now I’m going to be very diplomatic and say that [Friday] night’s victory meant a lot to us,” said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, who lashed out at his players after the game, according to a team source. “We hoped that people who didn’t play as many minutes last night would give us some energy, and that didn’t happen. We didn’t have an answer for them.”

Brendan Haywood (16 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) and Jamison (20 points, 12 rebounds) played well in their home state in front of family and friends.

But that wasn’t nearly enough to offset clutch performances by the Bobcats, who also had played a road game — a loss in Boston — the night before.

The Bobcats took the lead at 8-7 in the first quarter and never relinquished it.

The Wizards got as close as 74-67 on a reverse layup by Arenas with 9:42 left in the game, but the Bobcats countered with a 6-0 run. The Wizards never got within single digits again.

Instead, the Bobcats turned the fourth quarter into an offensive showcase, shooting 62 percent from the field. Rush hit five of six shots in the quarter.

The Wizards don’t return to the court until Wednesday, when Portland comes to town. Jordan probably will give the Wizards off today because of the recent grind.

But when they return to the practice court, they will have a lot of work to do.

“We looked lost out there,” Jamison said.

And there weren’t too many people disagreeing with him.

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