Washington has been able to withstand two outstanding performances from Charlotte Bobcats scoring leader Gerald Wallace this season. Now, though, the Wizards are having a hard enough time overcoming their own ineptness.
The Wizards likely won’t have to face Wallace in their latest matchup with the Bobcats, but they continue to be weighed down by their worst slump of the season as the teams meet Saturday night.
Washington (25-29) was 24-19 through games of Jan. 29, but has since lost 10 of 11. The Wizards are in sixth place in the East, but are among eight teams vying for the conference’s last three playoff spots.
Before their current slump, the Wizards beat the Bobcats twice even though Wallace averaged 28.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.5 steals in those meetings. Wallace, though, isn’t expected to play in this contest after being taken off the floor on a stretcher Friday night. He suffered a concussion when he was hit in the face with an inadvertent elbow in the third quarter of Charlotte’s 116-115 overtime loss to Sacramento.
Also on Friday night, Washington was beaten by Cleveland superstar LeBron James, who made two free throws with 7.8 seconds left in a 90-89 Wizards defeat. Washington lost even though the Cavaliers couldn’t dress Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith or Delonte West, who were all acquired as part of a three-team, 11-player deal just prior to Thursday’s trading deadline.
“It’s frustrating to lose to anybody, whether you’re short-handed or not,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said.
The Wizards are returning to the Verizon Center after playing five of their last six on the road. Washington, however, has lost a season-high four straight at home, including a 113-100 overtime defeat to New York on Tuesday night.
Charlotte (19-36), meanwhile, has dropped six straight road games and nine of its last 10 overall. Losing Wallace for an extended period of time certainly wouldn’t help.
Wallace, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Bobcats, lost consciousness after Kings forward Mikki Moore swung around with the ball and hit him in the nose. The veteran forward remained on the floor for nearly 10 minutes while the training staff and team doctor attended to him.
Wallace was eventually put on a stretcher with a neck brace and wheeled off the floor to an ambulance. A team official said Wallace regained consciousness and had a CAT scan. Doctors were running more tests.
“It was disturbing to see him go out on a stretcher because you expect him to get back up after hits like that,” Charlotte guard Jason Richardson said. “It was a little scary.”
Wallace is having a career season, averaging 20.9 points per game. Richardson, who is averaging 20.0 points, would need to carry even more of the scoring load if Wallace is sidelined for an extended period.
Richardson went 11-for-20 from the field and finished with 29 points versus the Kings after averaging 14.0 while making 33.3 percent (14-for-42) of his shots from the floor in his previous three contests.