Regrets? Oh yes, the Charlotte Hornets had plenty of those following a 110-107 double-overtime loss to the Washington Wizards.
“This was a tough loss. I think this loss is going to haunt us all summer long,” said Hornets center Al Jefferson, who finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds.
“Even if we do make the playoffs, this loss could be the difference in being the eighth, rather than seventh, seed.”
Right now they would be neither. At 30-41 the Hornets are 1 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Boston Celtics in the standings. They’re 11th in the East, also behind the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers.
They had plenty of opportunity to knock off the playoff-bound Wizards (41-32) after a tremendous third quarter in which they outscored Washington 25-16.
They had a four-point lead with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter after Kemba Walker made two free throws.
But then seldom-used small forward Jeff Taylor missed one of two free throws and the Wizards used a 3-pointer by Rasual Butler and a pull-up jump shot by point guard John Wall to force overtime.
Taylor was in the game as a defensive substitute. He was playing in part because the Hornets lost small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist earlier in the game to a left ankle sprain.
Kidd-Gilchrist injured himself on a drive late in the third quarter. He tried to stay in the game, but fell to the court on the ensuing defensive possession.
Kidd-Gilchrist left the locker room on crutches Friday not knowing how long he might be out.
“I don’t know,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “We’ll just have to see tomorrow.”
The Hornets play the Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Hawks at Time Warner Cable Arena Saturday. If the Hornets are fortunate enough to climb back to eighth place at the end of the season, this game would serve as a playoff preview.
But time is running out and the post-game mood in the Hornets’ locker room was sad.
“We had chances – too many chances – to win,” said Jefferson, who missed a desperate 3-pointer at the end of the second overtime after a Wizards trap forced point guard Mo Williams (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) to pass rather than shoot.
Williams was terrific Friday, particularly after having to miss Thursday’s practice with a sore knee. Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Williams’ left knee will require close monitoring the rest of the season and he’ll likely be held out of most practice activity to preserve his body.
Not a particularly strong defender, Williams made two big defensive plays in this game. He took a charge from Wall just outside the restricted area and he stripped Wall of the ball in the open court.
Jefferson, too, has been limited of late by a sore knee. But he pushed through to play 40 minutes Friday.
“I’m pretty good at dealing with pain,” Jefferson said. “You can’t make any excuses. You have to be out there.”
Losing Kidd-Gilchrist for any length of time would be a blow to a team that has been injury-ravaged all season.
“It hurts, Jefferson said. “He’s our best defender, a big part of the reason we can be good on defense.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell