Perhaps no team in the NBA has been smitten by injuries over the last few years as the Washington Wizards have.
And as this season began, it seemed no different. First Antawn Jamison went down. Then Mike Miller. Then Randy Foye, and so on and so on.
Jamison, a two-time All-Star, had gotten the worst of it, his injured right shoulder having kept him out of the lineup for some of the preseason and the first nine games of the regular season.
In his 2009-10 debut on Wednesday, against Cleveland, Jamison looked as if he had never missed a beat, logging more than 37 minutes, scoring a team-high 31 points and pulling down 10 rebounds to lead the Wizards past the Cavaliers, 108-91.
"It has been tough," Jamison said of the more than one month he has missed. "Just to get everybody healthy is finally a good thing. First I go down for a month, then Mike (Miller) goes down for a couple of games. Then it's Randy Foye. What I say is let's just get it out of the way now. Other teams go through it too. For us, it has happened and it is in the past. The good thing is we know we have guys who can come in and step it up. It was good to see everybody yelling out there and competing and pushing each other."
The win ended this Wizards' six-game losing streak. Expected to be lethal at the offensive end this season, the Wizards scored more than 100 points for just the fourth time this season.
In order to end their streak the Wizards had to upend a Cleveland team on a streak of its own, having won five straight going into the game.
But on this night it was Cleveland that showed up without two injured starters -- Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao -- and it was reflected in their play.
LeBron James led all scorers with 34 points and nine assists. However, he also committed six turnovers.
The Cavs looked as if they would have no problem keeping up with the struggling Wizards in the first quarter when they were 14-of-22 from the floor and led 32-22 heading into the second. But Cleveland struggled with its shooting the rest of the way, making just 21-of-56 from the field through the final three quarters.
"We played good basketball in the first quarter and then from there, the last three quarters were not good at all," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "In the second half we brought the ball to a complete stop offensively - all of our guys. I don't know how we had as many turnovers as we did in the second half because the ball wasn't moving. And they capitalized by getting layup after layup after layup."
James said that not having O'Neal in the lineup altered the team's play. However, he also made a point of complimenting the Wizards' tenacity.
"They were in attack mode and they made some shots in the second half that they didn't make in the first quarter. That's a good team," James said. "When it became a rat race, with us not having our big fellow down low to slow things down, we become a jump shooting team. Against certain teams you have to have that interior force."
The Wizards were actually able to display the depth that they have been touting since the preseason, particularly in the fourth quarter. Wizards coach Flip Saunders didn't play Gilbert Arenas (18 points on 6-of-22 shooting) at all, and he brought Jamison in for the final two minutes of the game.
Instead, Wizards coach Flip Saunders turned to Caron Butler and recently acquired guard Earl Boykins to carry the load late in the game. Butler scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth, and Boykins scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter.
"I told the guys in the locker room that if we have a group that is playing well no matter who it is you let that group run it out," Saunders said. "I thought that that group was playing well."