Wizards continue to show improvement on road

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Washington Wizards won only seven road games all last season, but this year they look forward to playing on the road.

They were impressive again Tuesday night with a 97-83 win over the CHARLOTTE Bobcats, as they improved to 8-9 on the road and raised their record to 15-17.

They took control with a 17-0 run early in the third quarter and led by as many as 19 in the second half, never allowing CHARLOTTE closer than seven in the fourth quarter.

All this after they lost three straight at home.

"We're doing better on the road because we're just focusing on everything we're supposed to do," said center Marcin Gortat, who had 18 points, 13 rebounds and held CHARLOTTE center Al Jefferson to only six points. "We stay at the hotel, we're disconnected from all the stuff that's going on at home with our friends and families. It sounds crazy and at the end of the day we've got to do a better job at home, but I guess this is going to be our main focus."

Guard Bradley Beal led the way with 21 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. Guard John Wall finished with 17 points and eight assists against no turnovers. Forward Trevor Booker scored 12, including eight in the 17-0 third-quarter spurt, and guard Martell Webster scored 10.

The Wizards led 43-39 at halftime, then went on their 17-0 run early in the third quarter to push the lead to 64-45.

"We're just playing the game the right way on the road," Webster said. "When you play the game the right way it usually rewards you with a win. And we're believing in each other down the stretch. On this team, we have an arsenal. Tonight, Book got it going and that was an amazing show to watch, and then Brad came back in and shut it down and John hit some big shots. So collectively, it was a great win."

Wizards coach Randy Wittman was especially pleased with Gortat, and not just with his scoring and rebounding. Jefferson had scored in double figures in 22 straight games, but Gortat limited him to just three of nine shooting from the field.

"I told March that's as good as you can play Al Jefferson," Wittman said. "He fought him all night long and he's got an 18 and 13 behind it, too. He was very active tonight. I think when you're involved in the game like you have to be when you're guarding Jefferson at the other end, I think you feed off that on the offensive end."

Guard Gerald Henderson led the Bobcats with 27 points, and guard Kemba Walker had 19 points and eight assists but five turnovers.

But the Bobcats shot just 43.1 percent from the field and were outrebounded 46-38.

They went scoreless for a total of six minutes and 10 seconds in the third quarter during Washington's 17-0 run.

The Bobcats were returning home after losing four of five on a recent road trip, but they had ended the trip with a win at Sacramento on Saturday.

"It's disappointing," Henderson said. "Coming into the game we thought it was a game we could get back on track after winning at Sacramento. We just didn't come up with enough plays and we got down in the third quarter and just couldn't come back from it. We didn't play with a lot of intensity on either end tonight. We lost track of them in the third quarter and we didn't really play with a lot of force on the offensive end either. They're a good team. If you don't bring it, you know you're going to lose."

Bobcats coach Steve Clifford addressed the media briefly but did not answer any questions.

"The toughest game is the first game after a long road trip," Clifford said. "It comes down to will, mental toughness and how bad you want to win."

NOTES: This was the first of four meetings between the Southeast Division foes. They'll also meet in Washington on March 12 and April 9, and in CHARLOTTE on March 31. ... Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said before the game that F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (fractured left hand) is hoping to return to action next Tuesday against New York. Kidd-Gilchrist has missed the last 18 games. ... The Bobcats are also without C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture left foot) and F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles tendon). ... The Wizards were without F Al Harrington (right knee surgery) and G Glen Rice (fractured right wrist). ... The Bobcats will now hit the road again for games at Minnesota on Friday and at Chicago on Saturday. ... This was the start of a three-game road trip for the Wizards. They'll play at New Orleans on Wednesday and at Indiana on Friday.

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