Ariza moved aside, laughing as he scooted out of the locker room, leaving Webster surrounded by video cameras, microphones and tape recorders, covered only by a towel. Webster avoided an awkward situation by cracking a joke about being uncomfortable with so many people staring at his physique and then snuck off to the shower.
The postgame handoff may have been clumsy but Ariza and Webster once again proved to be an effective small forward tandem as the Wizards snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over the Bobcats. With Charlotte focused on — but not always capable of — slowing down Nene inside, Ariza and Webster benefited from the numerous open looks and combined for 46 points and 9-for-15 shooting from beyond the three-point line.
“Our bigs had mismatches all night, we thought. We wanted to take advantage of that and when they started doubling, they kicked it out to us and we started knocking down shots,” said Ariza, who scored a season-high 26 points and matched his season high with five three-pointers.
Webster, who is tied for third in the NBA in three-point accuracy at 44.3 percent, made his first four three-pointers and finished with 20 points. It was the third time this season — all since John Wall returned the lineup — that both Ariza and Webster scored at least 15 points in the same game, with the Wizards recording wins against New York, Denver and Charlotte.
“It makes the job easier for me, when you find those guys cutting and spotting up and when you want to double-team our big man, they are spacing up and making shots,” Wall said.
The Wizards (20-41) struggled to find reliable production at small forward after trading Caron Butler to Dallas at the trade deadline three years ago, relying on banged-up veterans (Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis) and an inexperienced rookie (Chris Singleton) before settling into solid rotation with Webster and Ariza.
“Seems like the second half of the season they’ve been playing unbelievable, both knocking down shots, both making plays, both playing defense,” reserve point guard A.J. Price said. “With both guys playing like that, we’re very tough to beat.”
Ariza and Webster have adjacent locker room stalls and have managed to connect, despite essentially playing for the same minutes. The Wizards rarely, if ever, see a drop-off when Ariza enters the game for Webster — and some nights Ariza provides better production.
“It’s weird like that sometimes. We feed off each other,” Ariza said. “That’s just how it is sometimes when you get real close to people. You help each other out throughout the year, just try to feed off everybody’s energy.”