The Washington Wizards broke their four-game losing streak Tuesday night as John Wall recorded a season-high 35 points, handing the Cleveland Cavaliers their first home loss of the season by the score of 97-85.
Washington dominated this game from the jump as they went on a quick 10-0 run, and never looked back as they led from the very beginning of the game to the very end. Jared Dudley would make a driving layup with 5:46 left in the third quarter to give the Wizards their biggest lead of 22 points.
LeBron James did finish the game with 24 points and 13 rebounds; however, he shot 8-of-20 from the field (40 percent) and turned the ball over nine times. Matthew Dellavedova came off the bench for Cleveland and added 15 points.
Wall had his best game of the season and he saved it for the right night as the Wizards had the tall task of facing the number one team in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards point guard recorded his fifth double-double of the season as he finished with 35 points on 14-of-24 shooting, 10 assists and five steals.
Bradley Beal didn’t have a good shooting night as he shot 6-of-19 from the field, including 1-of-10 from three, but he did finish with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Marcin Gortat had a huge night as he finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Jared Dudley and Otto Porter combined for 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Cleveland did close the Wizards lead to one point in the second quarter, but Washington would proceed to go on a 15-2 run to give them a nice 52-38 lead. The Wizards didn’t let the Cavaliers come out of halftime and gain any momentum because they hit them with a 7-0 run. The Cavaliers would only get as close as 10 points, but that was with 2:47 remaining in the game. Washington didn’t do much to close it out but they would hold on and beat Cleveland, 97-85.
Head coach Randy Wittman has to be ecstatic about his team’s energy on defense. They held Cleveland to 85 points on 33.7 percent shooting from the field and an even worse 30 percent from behind the arc (9-of-30). The Cavaliers also had trouble taking care of the ball, as they finished with 19 turnovers that led to 25 Washington points.
Even those the Wizards struggled to shoot the ball from three (7-of-28), they dominated Cleveland in the paint 44-to-22. Wall did a nice job attacking the rim and finishing, as well as attacking and kicking it out to open shooters or dumping it off to a rolling Gortat. Washington also did a nice job taking care of the ball, committing only 13 turnovers that led to 10 Cleveland points.
Despite Wall’s incredible performance, it was a total team effort. The entire team committed to playing defense and it showed as the starting frontcourt of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov combined for 32 points on 10-of-33 shooting and 13 turnovers.
The most intriguing part of the game was early in the fourth quarter Marcin Gortat picked up his fifth foul and Wittman chose to go really small. Washington trotted out a lineup of Wall, Beal, Garrett Temple, Porter and Dudley playing the center spot. During that time, Cleveland only had a 10-to-8 scoring advantage, making the move to go really small a success.
The Wizards will have a quick turnaround as they head home to the Verizon Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers. This will be the last time Kobe Bryant plays in Washington as he announced his retirement a couple days ago. The Cavaliers will not play until Friday when they go on the road to play the New Orleans Pelicans.