- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

A prolonged hot streak earned the Charlotte Hornets a spot in the NBA playoffs. Now they’re slipping a bit as the postseason looms.

Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Washington Wizards defeated the Hornets, 113-98, on Sunday, damaging Charlotte’s chances to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Hornets (46-34) are 29-14 since mid-January but have now lost three of five.

“We played two months of really, really good basketball and we have two games here to get back to that,” coach Steve Clifford said after his team dropped its third consecutive road game.

The Hornets entered the game tied with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, half a game behind the fourth-place Boston Celtics. They play at Boston on Monday night.



Frank Kaminsky had 18 points and a career-high 11 rebounds and Kemba Walker added 16 points for the Hornets, who shot 34.6 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Wizards shot 52.5 percent and outscored Charlotte, 50-22, in the paint.

“We didn’t really set a tone early on and they were able to get a lot of things in transition,” Kaminsky said. “In the half court, [they were] spreading us out, getting into the paint. We were missing rotations. Just didn’t have it defensively today.”

Marcus Thornton added 16 points for the Wizards (39-41) and Ramon Sessions had 15 points and 11 assists.

Washington was eliminated from playoff contention with Friday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons. It won despite being without John Wall, who is battling soreness in his right knee, for the third consecutive game and losing leading scorer Bradley Beal to a sore pelvis in the first half.

“I thought our aggression was there right from the start,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “I thought our bigs were much more active than we were in Detroit in the first half.”

Walker scored nine of his points in the third quarter as Charlotte rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit. The Hornets were ahead, 71-69, when Otto Porter Jr. scored the first eight points — six on 3-pointers — in a 12-0 third-quarter Wizards run.

Al Jefferson’s layup capped an 8-0 spurt to pull the Hornets to 88-84 midway through the fourth quarter, but Washington responded with a 14-2 run — including five points by Thornton and four by Gortat — to pull away.

Twice this season, the Hornets had used second-half rallies to beat Washington.

“We had talked about that when got up by like 10,” Sessions said. “We said we know what happened the last time. … We just kept our foot on the pedal and were able to get a good win.”

Washington finished 9-for-21 from 3-point range. Porter finished with 10 points.

The Wizards scored the first seven points of the second quarter and a 6-0 run later in the quarter gave them their biggest lead of the half at 53-39.

Wittman said Washington’s goal this week is to get to 41 wins.

“I told them when we got eliminated, let’s see if we can get to .500,” Wittman said. “Guys are going to play that maybe haven’t had the opportunities to play. We’ll see if they can take advantage of those minutes. Let’s take pride.”

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