CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Although the Charlotte Bobcats have been eliminated from playoff contention, Kemba Walker believes the young team can still take something from the season's final 16 games.
Most notably learning how to win close games like Monday night.
Gerald Henderson had 27 points and Walker came up with a flurry of big plays in the closing minutes helping the Bobcats overcome a five-point deficit and beat Washington 119-114 to snap the Wizards' three-game win streak.
Walker scored nine of his 18 points in the final three minutes, sparking a 12-0 Charlotte run.
The Bobcats had lost nine games this season in which they led at some point in the fourth quarter, a number Walker would like to see improve.
``We had a lot of games that we probably should have won in the fourth quarter,' Walker said. ``But you know it's a part of growing and it's a part of rebuilding. Tonight I think we took a huge step. Being down five points and sticking with each other and being able to win.'
Walker shot 8 of 14 from the field and had seven assists.
Henderson, who came in averaging 22.5 points over his previous five games, was 8 of 16 from the field and 10 of 11 on free throws. He also tied a career high with eight assists and his 3-pointer with 55 seconds left ultimately sealed the victory.
Ben Gordon had 19 points and Josh McRoberts added 17 for Charlotte.
John Wall scored 25 points and Nene added 21 for the Wizards, who lost three of four games this season to the NBA-worst Bobcats. Emeka Okafor and Garrett Temple each had 17 points.
The Wizards appeared ready to finish off the Bobcats after taking a 111-106 lead with 3:14 left on Trevor Booker's alley-oop dunk off a perfect pass from Wall.
But that's when Walker took over.
The 6-foot-1 point guard drove to the lane and put the ball in off the glass to cut the lead to three. Following a Washington turnover on an inbounds pass, Gordon knocked down a 3-pointer of an assist from Walker to tie the score.
Walker then converted a 12-foot bank shot to put the Bobcats up by two.
Walker drew a charge from Wall on Washington's next possession and followed by scoring on a layup at the other end. After a steal by Walker, Henderson knocked down a 3 from the right wing to cap a 12-0 run and give the Bobcats a 118-111 lead.
Martell Webster's 3 cut the lead to four but Wall fouled out with 28 seconds left and the Bobcats held on to win.
``We've got a lot of fight,' Henderson said. ``You know we had a little lull there toward the end of the fourth quarter but we just came together on offense and defense and got it done.'
The Wizards were looking to push their win streak to four, which would have matched a season high.
But once again they struggled with the Bobcats, finishing 1-3 this season against the league's worst team.
Wall said he felt like the Wizards ``gave the game away.'
``We gave this team, what, 63 points at halftime?' Wall said. ``It's tough to win on the road like that. You give them a lot of momentum.'
The Bobcats (15-52) tied a season high with 63 first-half points, but led by only four at the break.
The Wizards shot 63 percent in the first half, scoring 30 points from inside the paint. Led by Nene's 6-of-8 shooting, the Wizards starters were a combined 19 of 27 from the field before the break. Still, their defense failed them.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman said his team needs to change its approach when it comes to playing away from home.
Washington is just 5-26 on the road this season.
``You know, we don't have a different mindset when we come on the road and you have to,' Wittman said. ``You can't play the same way at home that you do on the road. I can't get them, right now, to realize it. I have got to find a way to change their mindset.'
NOTES: Charlotte's 119 points were a season high. ... The Bobcats had seven players in double digits. ... Henderson has scored at least 20 points in the four of the last six games. ... Nene had a season-high seven assists.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved