WASHINGTON - -The Washington Wizards had taken two steps forward, then took a huge step back Saturday night at Verizon Center, forgetting all the good things that they had done to record wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat and losing, 92-76, to the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Wizards (5-10) just avoided matching their season low in points with a performance that might rank just north of putrid.
Caron Butler led the Wizards with 19 points and Brendan Haywood had 10 points and nine rebounds, but no one on the Wizards could be pleased with his performance. Gilbert Arenas had his season low for the second consecutive game, scoring just six points on 3-for-11 shooting with six assists and two rebounds.
In his sixth game back since recovering from a right shoulder subluxation, Antawn Jamison was unable to provide the same scoring and rebounding punch for the Wizards. After having four double doubles in his first five games, and averaging 24.8 points and 11.2 rebounds, Jamison finished with a season-low six points and didn't have a rebound.
After a seven-game slide, the Bobcats have won their past four games. They have been sparked by the recent trade for Stephen Jackson and the improved play of Gerald Wallace, who had combined to score 62 points and grab 27 rebounds in the Bobcats' previous two games. Wallace led six players in double figures with 14 points and added 14 rebounds.
The Bobcats (7-9) took advantage of their listless opponent in the third quarter, scoring six consecutive points to take a 65-43 lead with 3:53 left in the period. The Wizards wouldn't get any closer than 15 points the rest of the game, and most of the announced 17,311 fans at Verizon Center had left the building with about five minutes remaining.
The Wizards and Bobcats staged one of the worst halves of basketball this season, with the teams combining for just 74 points and taking turns making bad plays. The Wizards were attempting to win three games in a row for the first time since April 2008. They used the emotion of the passing of longtime owner Abe Pollin to inspire them to victories against Philadelphia and Miami. But when they returned home after an impressive 94-84 win in Miami, the Wizards looked spent.
They had little energy from the opening tip, as Wallace had as many rebounds as the entire Wizards team (seven) in the first period. After scoring just 19 points in the first quarter, the Wizards somehow managed to play worse in the second period, as they missed 14 of 18 shots and scored just 13 points. They trailed 42-32 at halftime, with Arenas, Butler and Jamison combining to shoot just 4-for-15 from the field and scoring just 14 points.