WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Wizards will need more of the balance they displayed on Saturday night if they hope to make the playoffs without injured All-Star guard John Wall.
Trevor Ariza scored 24 points and was one of seven Washington players in double figures as the Wizards defeated the Charlotte Hornets 130-126 amid news that Wall will have season-ending surgery.
“Of course losing John is huge for this team — he’s the head of the snake,” Ariza said. “But when something like that happens, you have to find ways to win. That’s why you have what we call a team.”
Thomas Bryant added 21 points and 10 rebounds and Ariza had nine assists and seven rebounds.
Despite allowing Hornets guard Kemba Walker to score 47 points, Washington won for just the third time in 12 games after announcing Wall would undergo a procedure to address bone spurs in his left heel and miss at least six months.
The Wizards also overcame an uncharacteristic 7-of-19 shooting from leading scorer Bradley Beal, who finished with 19 points. Tomas Satoransky added 20 on a night rookie Troy Brown Jr. was the only Wizards player not to reach double figures.
“I can’t sit here and try to do it all on my own,” Beal said. “There’s no way .. I’ll be able to do it on my own. And it’s just a matter of trusting my teammates no matter what it looks like. We’ve got to get the win.”
Walker scored 24 of his points in the fourth quarter and nearly lifted Charlotte to a remarkable comeback when his 3-pointer cut the lead to a point with 1.9 seconds to play.
Nicolas Batum added 17 points for the Hornets, who fell to 4-11 on the road and are facing a six-game West Coast road trip early in January. Charlotte has allowed at least 130 points in consecutive road contests.
“It wasn’t enough offense,” Walker said. “The defense is usually what gets teams over the top. It gets us over the top. That’s when we’re at our best … tonight it wasn’t it.”
The Wizards went 20-21 last season without Wall, who missed many of those games while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. They’re still nine games below .500 (14-23) this season, despite Saturday’s victory.
The Hornets led only once after halftime, when Walker’s jumper made it 105-103.
However, Washington nearly squandered a 125-116 lead inside the final 25 seconds. Walker sank a technical free throw assessed to Beal, and Cody Zeller hit two more. Then, Walker hit two more jumpers, one following a turnover and the next off a pair of missed free throws by Satoransky. He then hit a 3 from the left wing to cut it to 127-126.
On the ensuing inbounds, Jeff Green found Ariza on a full-court feed. Ariza was fouled by Walker and converted a three-point play to seal it.
“We found a way to score the basketball,” Ariza said. “We played together, we moved the ball, so we got a lot of people a lot of open shots.”
Saturday marked Walker’s fourth time scoring 40 or more this season, after posting career-high five 40-plus point performances in the 2017-18 campaign. He now has 13 such games for his career.
The decision for Wall to have surgery came after visiting with Green Bay Packers associate team physician Dr. Robert Anderson on Saturday.
Wall had yet to address the surgical option publicly before to the game, although he walked through the Wizards’ locker room Saturday night with a gray protective boot on his left foot.
Hornets: G Tony Parker did not travel with the team on a planned off day. … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s put-back at the buzzer gave Charlotte a 29-27 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Wizards: F Markieff Morris will see a specialist about his continuing upper back and neck stiffness sometime next week, coach Scott Brooks said. . F Otto Porter Jr. (right knee) has been cleared to play, but Brooks wanted him to return to full practice first, rather than returning for the second of back-to-back games on Saturday. . Sam Dekker had 13 points off the bench after hitting his first six shots.
Hornets: Host Orlando on Monday.
Wizards: Conclude a three-game homestand Wednesday against Atlanta.
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