With victory slipping away from their grasp, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson carried the Charlotte Bobcats to a second-straight home victory.
A 12-0 run in the final 2:34 helped the Bobcats defeat the Washington Wizards 119-114 on Monday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“We just made plays," said Walker, who scored 19 points in the win. "We were able to get stops and get the rebounds. I was fortunate enough to make some key baskets. Gerald made a big basket and Ben (Gordon) made a big basket. There was some really good team play down the stretch.”
Charlotte (15-52) had its best first half of the season against the Wizards, scoring 62 points in the first and second quarters. The previous high by the Bobcats in a first half this season was 59 points in 108-101 victory at Detroit on Jan. 6.
“We just have to come out and play defense," said Wizards guard John Wall. "Whenever we play defense against anybody, home or away, we seem to be in the game from the jump. We can’t give a team 62 points at halftime. It’s tough to win on the road like that.”
Henderson scored 14 points to lead the 'Cats at halftime. Charlotte also received offensive production from forward Josh McRoberts in the starting rotation and guard Jannero Pargo off of the bench.
Both players were just behind Henderson with 11 points apiece in the first half.
Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap was pleased with the play of Pargo, who just signed a 10-day contract with the team on Friday.
“Pargo creates another guy that you have to guard, so people can’t play us soft all over the place," he said. "I think that our young guys are getting better."
Henderson, who finished with a game-high 27 points and eight assists on Monday, also noticed McRoberts' and Pargo's breakthrough performances.
“We've got two guys who just know how to play the game," he said. "Josh is a great passer, a great facilitator and can finish. He just knows how to play. Pargo is a great on-ball defender. He can score the basketball, but is also a willing passer. He makes the right plays.”
The Wizards (23-43) powered back into the game by scoring nine of the first 13 points in the third quarter. A dunk by Nene at the 8:47 mark of the third quarter gave Washington its first lead since the first quarter.
While the Wizards looked back in control, the Bobcats made a late 9-0 run in the third quarter to pull ahead again. Gordon scored five of those points, including a 3-pointer, to give the 'Cats a 94-89 advantage heading into the final stanza.
Another early run by the Wizards to start the fourth quarter set up an exciting ending with both teams trading scores and the lead down the stretch.
With just over three minutes left in the game, Wall made a pair of free throws and Trevor Booker connected on a slam dunk to give the Wizards a 111-106 lead.
Dunlap immediately called timeout, and the break in momentum helped the Bobcats regroup in a big way.
Charlotte scored 12-straight points with Walker netting six of those points on two lay ups and a pull-up bank shot.
Henderson and Gordon also added a 3-pointer each during the scoring spurt.
“We've had a lot of games we probably should have won in the fourth quarter but we didn’t execute," Walker said. "It happens. It’s part of growing and building. I think tonight we took a huge step, being down a few points and sticking with each other and being able to pull out a win.”
Attempting to fight its way back into the game, Washington made just 1-of-4 attempts from behind the 3-point line in the final minute.
Wall fouled out with 28 seconds left, finishing the game with 25 points, five assists and four rebounds.
“We knew whoever played defense first and got those stops at the end of the game was going to win," Wall said. "We didn’t get the stops we needed, and we turned the ball over. They just made the shots and we didn’t.”
The Bobcats will try to continue their winning ways with two more home games this week.
Charlotte's three-game home stand resumes Wednesday with a game against Toronto (26-41) on Wednesday. The 'Cats also welcome Detroit (23-46) on Saturday.