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Paul Pierce provides another Wizards injury scare in loss to Hornets

Paul Pierce injured his right knee Friday against the Hornets, but later returned to the game. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
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At this point, it seems the Washington Wizards cannot survive a preseason game without an injury scare. Last Friday, starting shooting guard Bradley Beal broke his wrist. On Wednesday, Beal’s replacement, Glen Rice Jr., sprained his ankle. And tonight, starting small forward Paul Pierce’s banged his right knee with a Charlotte Hornets defender while setting a picking roll, leaving Pierce limped off the floor with 5.4 seconds in the first half.

But unlike the Wizards’ previous injury episodes, Pierce was almost immediately back on the court. The 17-year veteran started the second half and played another 9 minutes and 9 seconds. He was taken out and walked off to the locker room for a head start on routine treatment — squeezing the sweat out of his headband and tossing the handband to a fan along the way — with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter of Wizards’ 96-86 loss at Verizon Center.

By the time Pierce exited, the Wizards’ lead — once 16 points in the first half — had dwindled to two. And the Wizards’ collapse did not cease without him: The Hornets (3-2) surged ahead with a 23-1 run and increased their lead to as much as 17 in the fourth quarter en route to defeating the Wizards (4-2) for the second time in a week.

“Our offense is putting too much pressure on our defense,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “We are trying to do too much individual stuff from an offensive standpoint. That’s the reason why we struggle shooting the ball right now.”

John Wall paced the Wizards with 14 points and five rebounds, making 7 of 8 free throws but shooting just 3 of 13 from the field. Pierce added 11 points and five rebounds, and Nene contributed 10 points.

Al Jefferson’s 20 points and eight rebounds led the Hornets, who accumulated five double-digit scorers. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist registered 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Kemba Walker finished with 16 points.