Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats coughed up a 20-point first half lead but turned up the defensive intensity in overtime and took down the Washington Wizards, 94-88, in an Eastern Conference battle between two playoff-bound foes.
Jefferson finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds and Kemba Walker tallied 17 points and 12 assists for Charlotte, which has won five straight games for the first time since 2010 to climb to 40-38 and jump into sixth place in the East.
The Bobcats, who own the same record as the Wizards, have the tiebreaker after taking 3-of-4 regular season meetings.
"If you watch the games (against Washington), these games, all of them, could have gone either way," Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford said of the battles against the Wizards this year. "To me the teams are very evenly matched."
Gary Neal netted 16 points off the bench while Gerald Henderson and Josh McRoberts scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. McRoberts had missed the previous three games with a sprained ankle.
John Wall posted his third career triple-double in the setback with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Marcin Gortat also stuffed the stat sheet, contributing 27 points with 14 boards as Washington suffered its second straight loss.
"It doesn't matter who we're going to play in the first round (of the playoffs), if we're going to play like this, we're not going to win games, bottom line," Gortat said of his team's recent struggles.
The Bobcats were the better team in every facet early on, claiming a 23-10 lead 7 1/2 minutes into the contest after making 10 of their first 14 shots. Every starter scored during the spurt, with McRoberts and Walker supplying seven points apiece. Charlotte ended up hitting 3-of-4 from the arc, Washington missed both of its tries from 3-point range and the visitors owned a 32-18 lead after one.
Charlotte built a 50-30 lead midway through the second quarter and looked to be in complete control, but the Wizards hung around thanks to an 11-4 run to close the half.
It turned into a prolonged 25-6 flurry, as the Wizards scored 14 of the first 16 points of the second half to pull back within a point.
Charlotte weathered the storm and held its lead, taking a 71-66 edge into the fourth.
The home team finally jumped in front for the first time on Bradley Beal's jumper at the 5:28 mark. The 'Cats tied it back up at 80 on Henderson's trey from the right wing, but Gortat countered with a three-point play on the other end.
The Wizards had a chance to add to the lead, but Wall's sloppy pass was intercepted by Walker. Walker then hit a rainbow 3 to knot the score back up at 83-all with 2:30 to play. Jefferson's jumper from the free throw line made it 85-83, and Wall's pull-up jumper led to yet another tie.
Gortat and Jefferson both converted layups off pick and rolls in the final 10 seconds, and Washington failed to get a shot off as regulation came to a close.
After two scoreless minutes of overtime, Walker's 3-pointer proved to be the difference. Washington shot 0-for-8 in the extra session.
Both teams have already clinched a postseason berth. Charlotte is in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, while the Wizards return for the first time since 2008 ... Beal scored 16 points for Washington ... Wizards center Nene scored 10 points off the bench in his first action in 21 games. He was out with sprained knee ligament.