Wizards' Strong Second Half Stymies Cavs

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Daniel Gibson finished with 10 points in Thursday's loss.
David Liam Kyle
NBAE/Getty Images
With Coach Byron Scott still tinkering with rotations – and four potential starters out for said tinkering – the Cavaliers came back to earth in their second exhibition game, succumbing to a strong Wizards second-half effort and dropping the 97-83 decision on Thursday night at The Q.

Despite missing Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison and Joey Graham, the Wine and Gold stuck with Washington’s starters through the first two quarters – clinging to a one-point edge at intermission despite shooting just 28 percent in the first half.

But Washington’s John Wall, the top pick in this summer’s Draft, began to heat up in the second stanza, scoring all 12 of his points after halftime and forcing the action against the shorthanded Cavaliers.

The Cavs knew coming into the season they’d have size issues along the frontline, and that shortcoming came into play on Thursday night. Despite an 11-rebound advantage, the Wizards seemed to have their way above the rim. At points during the second half, the Cavaliers allowed Yi to look like Yao – as the angular Chinese forward led Washington with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Cleveland shot just 35 percent on the evening, including 25 percent from beyond the arc. J.J. Hickson led the Wine and Gold with 16 points to go with eight boards. But even as the team’s leading scorer, Hickson was just 4-of-12 from the floor. Daniel Gibson, the only other starter in double-figures, also went 4-for-12 – finishing with 10 points.

Ryan Hollins, in his second start at center, was a beast on the glass – grabbing a game-high 14 boards for Cleveland.

Guard Ramon Sessions also notched double-digit boards – doubling-up with 10 rebounds, 10 points (also going 4-for-12 from the field) and adding a team-high six assists.

The Cavaliers did some things well on Thursday night – holding a 52-41 rebounding advantage over Washington. Cleveland also shot an even 80 percent from the stripe. On the negative side of the ledger, however, they turned the ball over 26 times to Washington’s 13.

Coach Byron Scott also tried to give some different players a longer run on Thursday. Christian Eyenga made his Quicken Loans Arena debut, finishing with five points – finishing a massive right-handed dunk on a nice feed from Sessions. Fellow rookie Samardo Samuels logged 18 minutes and was aggressive in the post.

"We started off pretty well, but our guys were a little tired tonight to be honest," said Coach Scott. "I thought that showed in the second half. Guys have been working their butts off all week long. Fatigue is not an excuse that we will be using, but I could definitely see that we were tired."

Danny Green got nearly 19 minutes of floor time and Jawad Williams logged 21 – heating up in the second half after struggling in the first. Leon Powe also saw his first action of the preseason, looking solid with 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

"We still have some kinks to work out and (need to) get the offense down to where we can just do it without thinking," said Powe. "I think it’s coming along good. This is our second preseason game, I think we will be fine."

The Wizards featured five players in double-figures, led by Yi. John Wall flashed his jaw-dropping speed on several occasions, but began to feel comfortable after intermission. The prized point guard from Kentucky led both clubs with nine helpers to go with three steals.

The new-look Cavaliers hit the road for the first time this preseason – heading west for a Texas two-step in which they’ll face Houston and Dallas in a back-to-back beginning on Sunday night.

  • The Cavaliers held Washington to 33 first half points – giving them a stretch of four quarters in which they allowed their opponents 58 total points.

  • Gilbert Arenas – once the bane of Cleveland’s playoff existence – appeared wearing a full-beard (ala 1974 Clyde Frazier) and wearing uniform No. 9. The erstwhile “Agent Zero” finished with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

  • The Cavaliers are now a combined 48-60 (.800) from the stripe this preseason. Cleveland ranked at the bottom of the league one season ago. Their newfound marksmanship might be due to their coach's example. After practice on Wednesday, Byron Scott sank 73 straight free throws.

    Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.