Game Report 11: Wizards 98 Cavaliers 91
THE GAME TURNED WHEN… With 1:06 to play in the third quarter, the Wizards led by 27 points. From that point on the Cavaliers took control of the game and didn’t lose until about 90 seconds remained in regulation. Led by Kyrie Irving [who else?], the Cavs went on a 34-11 to cut lead to 86-82 with 2:56 left in the 4th quarter. The key stat for the Wiz: no points from Bradley Beal or John Wall in the quarter to that point.
IT WAS OVER WHEN… With the Wizards leading 92-86 with 32 seconds to play, Earl Clark missed a 28-footer and Bradley Beal grabbed the rebound. Matthew Dellavadova quickly fouled Beal to stop the clock. Beal went to the line and calmly sank both free throws to put Washington up by eight and essentially end the game. The Wizards would hit four more free throws after that, making it impossible for the Cavaliers to complete their comeback. Washington never really got its offense going in the fourth quarter [18 points], scoring 10 of their last 12 points from the charity stripe. The Wiz hit only four shots from the field in the fourth quarter.
THE GOOD… For the second straight night the Wizards had 31 assists, this time on 38 made baskets. Washington had great ball movement through the first three quarters, thanks to almost all the starters. Unlike the Timberwolves game, when John Wall’s 16 assists accounted for over half the total dimes, everyone got into the helping act tonight. Wall led them all with 9 assists, but Beal had 8, Nene 6, Webster 7 and Gortat 3.
For the second straight game, the Wizards were perfect at the free throw line. Against the Timberwolves the Wiz hit all 15 of their fouls shots. Tonight, Washington hit all 14. Down the stretch, free throws were about the only way the Wizards could get points and they sealed the win for Washington. Nene, Marcin Gortat, Beal and Wall all hit free throws late in the fourth quarter to hold off the Cavs.
I thought Jan Vesely showed a few things tonight, just as he did the night before against Minnesota. Vesely had 8 rebounds [4 offensive, 4 defensive], two blocks and four points in 22 minutes. He took only three shots, hitting two of them, both from point blank range. Sure, Vesely still has his problems. He’s a foul magnet [3 tonight] and his -19 court ratio was easily the worst on the team. On the other hand, Vesely had to play a lot with the other reserves so it isn’t entirely his fault. I approve of him getting Kevin Seraphin‘s minutes, at least for now.
THE BAD… The entire fourth quarter until Washington started going to line with about 75 seconds left in regulation. The Wizards let Matthew Dellavedova hit two long 3-pointers and then with 4:48 remaining Kyrie Irving took over the game. First he hit two short shots in the paint, then four quick free throws when the Wizards — still unable to keep him out of the lane — started fouling him. Then Irving got in the lane again, scored on a layup, drew the foul and hit the free throw to cut Washington’s lead to 86-82. That’s basically when the run ended. Irving scored seven more points after that, but he was basically trading points with the Wizards at the free throw line and it wasn’t enough for Cleveland to complete its comeback.
We know what a great job the Wizards starters did distributing the ball [see above]. In 53 total minutes for the bench tonight, not a single assist was recorded. That’s right, not one single solitary assist was handed out by anyone off the bench tonight — in 53 minutes. Pathetic.
THE UGLY… Kyrie Irving completely dominated Wall in the fourth quarter. Wall couldn’t guard Irving, who got into the paint for easy scores or assists at will. On the other end, Wall did nothing offensively and seemed eager to get rid of the ball once the ball was advanced past half court. I don’t know if Wall’s back spasms were bothering him or not but it was a huge disadvantage for Washington when its best player became unable to compete with the other team’s best player.
THE STUDS… Bradley Beal scored 22 points in first three quarters on 6-6 on 3-pointers. Beal went cold for most of the fourth quarter, but finished with 26 points and eight assists, both tying career highs for the second year guard.
Nene poured in 24 points on 10-16 shooting, adding 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He’s known for filling up a stat line. Tonight he really did it. He also hit four crucial free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
THE DUDS… As usual, the bench was terrible. So was everyone else for the first 10-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter.
THE BENCHWARMERS… Trevor Ariza and Al Harrington both missed the game with injuries to hamstring and knee.
MISSING IN ACTION… Kevin Seraphin and Glenn Rice, Jr. never got into the game. A DNP-CD is standard for Rice, but now we’re seeing Seraphin, who has been benched the last two games, has lost his minutes to Jan Vesely. When an NBA coach decides Jan Vesely is a better player than you are, your career is definitely not on an upswing.
THE UPSHOT IS… Washington is 4-7, having won two in a row. The Wiz just got their second win on the road and are now one game ahead of the Cavaliers in the loss column. Washington has played 7 of their first 11 games on the road and the wear and tear has shown. The team has struggled this season with both offense and defense. And John Wall is seemingly not right with back spasms. And Trevor Ariza, a key starter and defensive stopper, and Al Harrington, who was supposed to be Washington’s bench scoring this season, are both out with injuries. However, the team can win against most teams when Beal and Nene are playing well. Nevertheless, the Wizards are just far too dependent on their starters and one wonders how long that can continue. Someone from the bench — preferably more than one someone — needs to step up and be a consistent contributor for this team.