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Bobcats Are Still Causing the Wizards Pain

Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace, right, snuffs out an Andray Blatche shot attempt on the way to holding the Wizards to a season-low 72 points.
Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace, right, snuffs out an Andray Blatche shot attempt on the way to holding the Wizards to a season-low 72 points. (By Chuck Burton -- Associated Press)
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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CHARLOTTE, Dec. 23 -- The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats are inexorably linked, and not just because they play in the same division.

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It was on the night of April 4, 2007, in a game played at Washington's Verizon Center, that Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace fell into the left leg of Wizards star Gilbert Arenas after making a layup.

Arenas crumpled to the floor in pain and underwent season-ending knee surgery the following day.

Neither Arenas nor the Wizards have ever been the same.

Arenas, who has undergone two more surgeries and been limited to 13 regular season games since the start of the 2007-08 season, was in street clothes Tuesday night as the Bobcats beat the Wizards 80-72 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Wizards (4-22) have lost seven straight and own the worst record through 26 games in franchise history.

"You just have to continue to play hard and try to work out of this funk," said forward Caron Butler, who scored a game-high 31 points in his first game this season as a shooting guard. "I know I'm just going to continue to work hard to lead this team."

But lead it where?

The team hopes to get Arenas back at some point this season but he still hasn't been cleared for contact work. Even if he comes back relatively soon, any hopes for piecing together a playoff run have all but slipped away.

If that isn't enough to put a damper on the holidays for Wizards fans, consider this: LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers are next.

Thursday's game at Cleveland will be nationally televised and has the potential to only further remind the Wizards how far they have descended since a memorable first-round playoff series against Cleveland at the end of the 2005-06 season.

The Bobcats (10-19) aren't much better than the Wizards, but they were good enough on a night when Washington shot a season-low 32.3 percent, finished with a season-low in points (72) and assists (nine) and never managed to put together a real run.


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