Sports

Wizards play host to Hornets

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards will try to inch closer to a playoff spot, while the Charlotte Hornets try to keep their postseason hopes alive Friday night when the Southeast Division foes clash at the Verizon Center.

The Wizards are next in line to clinch a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. However, they've dropped four in a row, including an entire west- coast trip and home loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The Hornets are in a battle for one of the final two postseason spots in the east. Charlotte is tied for the Pacers and Brooklyn Nets a half-game behind the Boston Celtics for eighth. Those three teams are 2 1/2 games in back of the Miami Heat, who are seventh.

Washington is certainly not heading into the postseason on a roll. They haven't won since March 18, which was the final victory in a five-game winning streak.

The Wizards are back home to try and correct things, although they dropped the opener of this stay on Wednesday, 103-101, to the Pacers.

Indiana's George Hill scored the go-ahead layup with 2.7 seconds left to give the Pacers the win.

Hill denied a screen from the top of the key and slipped in for a scoop layup over two defenders to break a 101-101 tie. Washington was out of a timeout, and had to settle for a Rasual Butler halfcourt heave that missed badly at the horn.

"We were supposed to trap the ball. We didn't," Washington coach Randy Wittman said of the go-ahead shot.

Wittman was seen walking off the court even before the buzzer sounded.

John Wall scored a season-high 34 points with six assists for Washington. Marcin Gortat managed 16, followed by 10 apiece from Butler and Nene.

Bradley Beal turned his right ankle in the first quarter and did not return. He is listed as questionable for Friday.

The Wizards welcome the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks on this residency.

The Hornets have lost two in a row and five of their last six. Wednesday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets was costly considering both teams' positioning in the standings.

Brooklyn defeated Charlotte, 91-88, at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson scored 23 points each for the Hornets.

The Nets could not preserve an eight-point advantage with eight minutes to play. They hit just two shots over the next 5 1/2 minutes, and a pair of free throws from Mo Williams tied the game at 79-79 with 2:35 to play.

Charlotte tied the game two more times down the stretch but could not go ahead.

Brooklyn's Brook Lopez could have easily been the goat. Inbounding the ball with the Nets up three with three seconds left, his pass to Deron Williams under duress was tipped out of bounds by Williams. However, Lopez redeemed himself a moment later when he deflected Charlotte's inbounds pass to seal the win.

"We're going to have to play 48 minutes of focused basketball," said Hornets coach Steve Clifford. "I'd say we had a 3 1/2-to-4 minute stretch where we didn't do that, and it cost us."

The Hornets return home for three in a row, starting Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Wizards defeated the Hornets by 26 in Charlotte on March 9 to snap a five- game series losing streak.