WASHINGTON -- It was an off night for just about everybody, except Gerald Wallace.
The Wizards, meanwhile, were outrebounded by 18. Gilbert Arenas, of all people, was the team's second-leading rebounder with six, but he went 2 for 14 from the field. John Wall went 6 for 16 and had two layups blocked -- both by Wallace.
So, what do the winners say after such a game?
"It's a miracle," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said.
And what do the losers say?
"The amazing thing is how we can even be in the game," Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
Wallace had 25 points and 14 rebounds and managed to show nearly as much flash as No. 1 overall pick Wall. Wallace scored 10 straight Bobcats points in a third-quarter spurt during which he also managed to come from behind and strip the ball just as the speedy rookie was going up for a fast-break layup.
When Charlotte outscored Washington 17-7 over the final 6:10 of the game, Wallace had a reverse layup, another block of a layup attempt by Wall, and a rebound of his own missed free throw.
Wall had 13 points, 11 assists and four steals -- a bit short of the triple-double show he put on two nights earlier -- and had trouble finding his shot. Still, he has a double-double in four of his first seven NBA games, including the triple-double Wednesday night against Houston.
Andray Blatche scored 22 points for the Wizards, and Kirk Hinrich had 14. Arenas, who continues to come off the bench as he shakes off the rust from recent ankle, knee and groin injuries -- not to mention last year's suspension for a felony gun conviction -- played a season-high 31 minutes and scored five points to go with six rebounds. He played as much as he did, according to Saunders, because he was the only player actually getting rebounds in the second half.
"I'm struggling with the shot right now," Arenas said. "It feels good every time it leaves my hand, it's just not going down. It comes with those three weeks that I missed, it's killing me right now. Because before I was on point with my shot."
For a change, Arenas sounded like a wise old vet as he addressed reporters, talking about the challenges of coming off the bench after years as a starter and the growing pains the Wizards will have to experience.
"We're young, and we're going to have to learn," Arenas said. "We're going to have to learn how to shut teams down and stop having mental breakdowns at the end of the games. ... It's still the learning process. I understood that coming in, and I wanted to be a part of it."
Neither team led by more than 10, and the score was tied at 78 with 5 minutes to go when Diaw hit a 3-pointer to give Charlotte the lead for good. Wallace followed with a reverse layup on a feed from Augustin, and Augustin then hit a 3-pointer to complete a 10-0 run and put the Bobcats ahead 86-78 with 3:31 remaining.
"We really needed that win," Diaw said. "We had a bad start to the season, so it's great. It will get us on a little roll."
Wallace also got the benefit of the doubt when he knocked over a stationary Yi Jianlian with the lead at six with 1:53 to play. After a huddle, the officials called the play a block instead a charge. "Terrible call," said Saunders. "We got a big break," said Brown. ... Wall had nine assists before halftime, giving him at least seven assists in each of his first six games. Oscar Robertson was the last rookie to have that kind of start, with 10 in a row in 1960. ... Augustin finally missed a free throw, ending a 22-for-22 start to the season. ... The Wizards became the latest team to ask their fans to remain standing from the opening tip until they score their first point. It wasn't a good night to try it. First of all, the attendance was sparse at tipoff at the Verizon Center, no one seemed particularly excited about it, and the fans had to wait 3:20 into the game before sitting because the Wizards missed their first nine shots. ... The announced attendance was 14,855, which means Wizards owner Ted Leonsis was spared another night of having to do Wall's "Dougie" dance. Leonsis says he'll do the dance when the Wizards get their first sellout -- not counting games against the Lakers, Heat or Celtics. ... Midway through his postgame interview, Wallace was informed the showers were out of hot water. "It ain't the first time I've taken a cold shower," he said. ... The Bobcats swept the season series last year 4-0. ... Washington F Al Thornton felt a pain in his stomach during pregame warmups. He played only 21 minutes and left the game for good in the third quarter. "I might have pulled something," he said. "I'm not sure. but it was painful to move out there."
- Bob Delaney
- Rodney Mott
- Curtis Blair