Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images
Gilbert Arenas hit several key shots late in the game.
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 27 (AP) -- The All-Star and the up-and-comer went toe-to-toe, and experience won out in the end.
Arenas had a 3-pointer, a backdoor layup and drew a charge that fouled out Raymond Felton in the final four minutes for the Wizards, who spoiled perhaps Wallace's best game as a pro.
Wallace scored 40 points - one shy of his career-high - and added 14 rebounds and six steals, but managed only two free throws over the final 2:45.
"That's one of the top games I've played, and we didn't win,'' Wallace said. "You fight back and take the lead and then their key player makes the big shots that they need. He raises up and shoots them from Greensboro.''
Felton added 22 points for the Bobcats, who lost their third straight game.
"We're a scoring team. Just like Phoenix we try to score so much and so fast, everyone is going to have opportunities to score,'' Arenas said. "That's why we have to get key stops at the end.''
Arenas did that, holding his ground when Felton barreled through the lane with 3:23 left. With Brevin Knight missing his third straight game with a groin injury, the Bobcats had no true point guard when Felton went out. Charlotte managed only three field goals the rest of the way, two coming after the game was decided.
"I knew he had five and I knew they didn't have a backup point guard,'' Arenas said. "I wanted to get him out of the game.''
Arenas, who has scored 30 or more points in five of the past six games, drilled a deep 3-pointer on the next possession to give Washington a 101-97 lead. He added six rebounds, eight assists and was 14-of-16 from the free throw line.
"We're getting the big stops at the end of the game that are saving us, that's why we're on this streak,'' Arenas said of the Wizards, who have won 12 of 15 and moved into a virtual tie with Orlando atop the Southeast Division.
The Bobcats, who trailed by 16 points in the first quarter and by 10 at halftime, rallied to take a four-point lead in the third.
Wallace scored the first nine points in a 10-0 run that tied it at 71 midway through the third quarter. Wallace's tip-in moments later gave Charlotte a 79-75 lead.
Coach Bernie Bickerstaff curiously kept a reserve lineup that included Walter Herrmann, Bernard Robinson and Jake Voskuhl in the game early in the fourth quarter, and the Wizards took advantage. Jarvis Hayes' 3-pointer concluded a 7-0 run gave the Wizards an 89-87 lead with 8:50 left.
Jamison's basket with 3:55 left gave Washington the lead for good.
The Wizards, who went 20-for-23 from the field to start the game and shot an NBA season-high 72 percent (23-of-32) in the first half, missed 10 of their first 12 shots in the third quarter.
It was a stark contrast to the beginning of the game, when Washington hit 13 of its first 15 shots in building a 30-14 lead.
Adam Morrison hit his first five shots for Charlotte, but then missed 12 of his final 14 and finished with 17 points.
It was all part of a frustrating night for the Bobcats, who fell to 1-9 all-time against the Wizards.
"I understand the intentions are good, but we just have to stop making mistakes and then blaming it on youth,'' Bickerstaff said. ``Those are basketball plays we have to make.''
Notes: Knight will fly to Philadelphia on Thursday to see a specialist and is fearful he may have a hernia, which would force him to miss significant time. ... Bobcats F Sean May is close to returning from a sprained right ankle. He went through an intense shooting workout before the game, stopping only once for a picture with Felton and Jamison, all North Carolina products. ... Jamison and fellow ex-Tar Heel Brendan Haywood combined to hand out 45 tickets to friends and family before the game. ... The Wizards are 6-1 on the road after starting 0-5.