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The Cavaliers were coasting along through three quarters – leading Washington by as many 16 points – but the Wizards closed the third quarter on a 21-9 run and outscored Cleveland, 28-10, in the final period to hand the Wine and Gold a 101-82 loss on Wednesday night in Cincinnati.
Cleveland’s starters were solid – including Jarrett Jack, who saw his first action since an October 11 win over Orlando. Jack started at the point and, in just ten minutes of action, finished with five points and five assists.
“It felt good to be out there with my teammates more than anything,” said Jack. “I got into the flow a little bit, was kind of able to understand the offense without having to look at Coach. You know, I’ve been out for a few days so that was the cool thing about it.”
With Jack at the point, Kyrie Irving moved to the 2-guard and led the Cavaliers with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Irving was 4-for-7 from long-distance, adding three assists and a pair of steals.
“Playing with such a smart player such as Jarrett, he’s been in the league a while, it’s easy to play off somebody like that,” praised Irving. “If I get to my spot, I know he’s going to find me. He’s going to be aggressive, he’s going to draw the defense, he’s going to make the right play, whether it’s for me or my other teammates.”
Tristan Thompson was just as effective, doubling-up with 17 points, a game-high 14 boards and three assists in just 27 minutes.
With the preseason winding down, Coach Mike Brown took a look at some players fighting for roster spots in the second half. The Cavaliers were also without C.J. Miles, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Andrew Bynum and Sergey Karasev – all nursing injuries as the squad readies for the regular season.
Jermaine Taylor led all bench scorers with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting. Kenny Kadji finished with six points and a pair of boards. Matthew Dellavedova struggled from the floor – going 0-for-6 with six turnovers. But he wasn’t alone. Cleveland’s reserves shot just 25 percent from the field, going a combined 8-for-32.
Only one starter – Earl Clark – saw action in the fourth quarter, and the newly-acquired small forward logged only three minutes in that period.
The Wine and Gold led by a dozen after one quarter and took that dozen-point lead into the locker room at half. But after a decent start after intermission, Washington went on to outscore Cleveland, 60-29, in the second stanza.
“I think in the second half we got stagnant with the basketball,” said Coach Brown. “And we tried to make home run plays or when (Washington) jumped us in the second half we didn’t move the ball in a timely manner and now we’re trapped and we’re throwing the ball all over the place and they’re getting it and dunking it the other way or shooting a three.”
Bradley Beal led four Wizards in double-figures with 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting. Beal and Trevor Ariza were a combined 8-of-12 from beyond the arc and the Wizards, as a team, shot 54 percent from three-point range.
The Cavaliers shot 40 percent from the floor compared to Washington’s 46 percent. A byproduct of the Cavaliers’ sloppy second half, the Wizards had 14 steals and forced the Wine and Gold into 22 turnovers.
The win improved the Wizards preseason record to 2-5, while the Cavaliers slipped to 4-3 as they head to Charlotte to wrap up the preseason on Thursday night.