Wiz, Bobcats clash in Southeast showdown

( - A pair of Southeast Division rivals jockeying for playoff positioning tangle in the nation's capital Wednesday, as the Washington Wizards play host to the Charlotte Bobcats.

Both the Wizards and Bobcats punched their ticket to the postseason, while Washington sits one game ahead of its division foe at the No. 6 spot with five to play.

The Wizards try to get back on track after Saturday's 96-78 loss to the Chicago Bulls, as D.J. Augustin nailed six 3-pointers en route to 25 points to lead the visitors. Washington was paced by John Wall's 20 points and Marcin Gortat followed with 19 and eight rebounds.

Bradley Beal was the other double-digit scorer with 14 points for the Wizards, who shot 40 percent for the game and had won two straight and four of five games. The Wizards also dropped to 20-18 at the Verizon Center and had won their previous three games there.

"You fight aggression with aggression. It was only a one-way fight tonight," Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said.

Wall is averaging 19.8 points since the All-Star break and the Wizards are 15-10 in that time. Gortat is posting 15.4 points and 10.7 rebounds in 24 games since the break.

The Wizards are playoff-bound for the first time since 2007-08, while the Bobcats reached the postseason for the second time in franchise lore. The other time was back in 2009-10.

Washington could get big man Nene back from a knee injury Wednesday. Nene hasn't played since Feb. 23 and returned to practice this week. The Wizards expect Nene to see some action versus Al Jefferson and the Bobcats. Nene is averaging 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds, and his inside presence will come in handy for the upcoming playoffs. The Wizards have gone 12-9 in his absence.

Charlotte has won four in a row and will continue its three-game road trip Wednesday in D.C.

The Bobcats opened the road trip with Saturday's 96-94 overtime triumph in Cleveland and clinched a postseason berth. Jefferson scored seven of his 24 points in the extra session and also pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds for the Bobcats, who got 20 points from Kemba Walker and 15 out of Gerald Henderson.

"The guys in the locker room are excited," said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford of the playoff berth. "We really don't have a lot of guys with playoff experience. It's a good locker room and it's a group of guys who are deserving."

The Bobcats survived a 44-point outburst from Cavs star Kyrie Irving and improved to 16-8 since the All-Star break. They are 12-5 in the last 17 games and 16-22 on the road.

Walker has scored 20-plus points in eight of the past 11 games. Cody Zeller ended with 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Cavaliers.

Charlotte will close the trip Friday at Boston and is 13-4 this season when both Jefferson and Walker score 20 or more points.

The Bobcats are 2-1 against the rival Wizards this season and have won five of the past seven matchups between the teams. Charlotte has lost 11 of the 19 meetings at Washington.

Beal is averaging 19.7 points in three games versus the Bobcats this season. Jefferson is posting 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in that time for Charlotte.