Zeller continually got open for easy layups as the Wizards failed to defend the pick-and-roll most of the game. He was 8 of 10 from the field.
The Hornets (30-39) trailed at halftime but built the lead up to as many as nine midway through the fourth quarter and then held on down the stretch. The Wizards got as close as three in the final 20 seconds, but the Hornets' Marvin Williams hit two free throws with 9.6 seconds left and two more with 7.3 seconds left.
Williams and Kemba Walker finished with 16 points apiece for Charlotte. Frank Kaminsky scored 14, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and Marco Belinelli scored 10.
Nicolas Batum returned after missing the previous two games with migraines and finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Wizards (42-27) seemed fatigued from a 112-107 win over Chicago in Washington on Friday. They had a streak snapped where they had swept back-to-back sets five straight times.
Washington shot just 36.7 percent from the field.
John Wall led the Wizards with 19 points and eight assists, but he was just 5 of 16 from the field. Bradley Beal scored 18 points, Otto Porter Jr. scored 16, and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 12.
The Wizards led 20-19 after one quarter and 40-39 at halftime. They shot just 31.7 percent from the field in the first half.
The Hornets led 64-61 after three quarters.
NOTES: The Wizards won both previous games against Charlotte this season. The teams will meet one more time, at Washington on April 4. ... The Hornets were without G Ramon Sessions (knee), C Miles Plumlee (calf) and F Johnny O'Bryant (ankle). ... The Wizards were without F Markieff Morris (sinus condition), marking just the ninth time all season the regular starting lineup has not been intact. ... Hornets G Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until 1:42 was left in the first half. ... The Hornets had been idle since losing at Indiana 98-77 on Wednesday. .... It was Cam Newton Bobblehead Night at the Spectrum Center. ... The Hornets will remain home to face Atlanta on Monday. ... The Wizards will play at Boston on Monday in a game with huge seeding implications.