Wall, Wizards Too Much for Cavs at The Q

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Wrap-Up -- After an absolutely scorching first quarter on Saturday night at The Q, it was expected that at some point the Wizards would have to cool down.

They didn’t.

For the second time in their last three outings, the road-weary Cavaliers were cut up on the defensive end – falling to a Wizards squad that shot 60 percent from the floor and pulled away for the 127-115 decision.

And as painful as the Nuggets loss was last week in Denver, this one hurt a little more in the standings. This one allowed the idle Celtics to climb to within a half-game of the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings, with Washington not far behind – pulling to within 2.5 games away with the win.

In one of the most difficult stretches of the season – returning from a four-game trip, facing Washington in the second-half of a back-to-back and heading right back out for a two-gamer beginning with the Spurs on Monday – the Wine and Gold fell for the third time this week.

The Wizards, also coming off a back-to-back, were scalding hot from the floor in the first quarter – going 18-of-22 from the floor, with John Wall leading the way with an 18-point period on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting.

But despite still shooting at a 70 percent clip after two quarters, putting up a 71-point first half, Washington only led by 10 points at intermission. The Cavaliers clawed back to within three late in the third quarter, but couldn’t get over the hump the rest of the way.

LeBron James – who was listed as questionable before the game with a right eye corneal abrasion suffered the previous night in Charlotte and played the first four minutes with goggles – led the way with 24 points on 10-for-21 shooting for Cleveland.

On the night, LeBron tallied his career-best 37th double-double of the season – adding a game-high 11 boards, a team-best eight assists and a blocked shot.

Kyrie Irving extended his NBA-leading streak of consecutive 20-point games to 21 straight – following up with 23 points, going 8-for-23 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the stripe, adding four assists, a steal and a pair of blocked shots.

Kevin Love, playing in the second game of a back-to-back for the first time since returning from knee surgery, tallied 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting – adding seven boards, a steal and a block.

For the second straight night, the Cavaliers bench was efficient – while putting up some of the squad’s best +/- numbers. All told, Cleveland’s reserves were a combined 12-for-18 from the floor, with Richard Jefferson (10 points), Kyle Korver (10) and Deron Williams (9) leading the way.

Kyrie Irving

Five Cavs score in double figures but it's not enough against the Wizards.

The Wizards were led by Wall, who paced both teams with 37 points – dissecting Cleveland’s defense on 14-for-21 shooting to go with 11 assists, four boards and a pair of steals.

Bradley Beal followed up with 27 points of his own as all five starters and pair of reserves notched double-figures for the Wizards. One of those reserves, Kelly Oubre Jr., was particularly painful to the Wine and Gold on Saturday night – notching 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, going 4-of-4 from the floor in the period.

The Cavaliers were pretty solid offensively – shooting 49 percent on the night, canning 12 triples and equaling Washington’s assist total with 24. But the Wizards were unconscious for most the night, shooting 60 percent from the floor for the game – out-rebounding Cleveland by eight and netting 58 points in the paint.

Turning Point -- There weren’t many turning points in the Cavaliers’ favor on Saturday night. Their biggest lead of the game was two points – at 6-4 less than two minutes into the ballgame.

Cleveland found itself down 17 points in the second quarter, but bounced back after half – putting together a 7-0 run late in the third to get to within three – 92-89.

With 7:38 left in the fourth, Kyle Korver’s triple got Cleveland within striking distance again – 109-105. But John Wall drilled a pair of free throws, followed by Oubre’s pair of putbacks off the offensive glass put the Wizards back up double-digit – an advantage they’d essentially retain for the remainder of the game.

By the Numbers7,394 … career assists for LeBron James, passing Maurice Cheeks for 12th place on the NBA’s all-time list. He’ll have to wait until next season to being taking aim at the top 10. Rod Strickland sits in 11th place with 7,987 and Chris Paul is at No. 10 at 8,165.

QuotableKevin Love, on the Cavaliers’ need to tighten up over the final few games …

”It’s pretty apparent we have a number of things that we need to address, and just attention to detail is one of them. I think there are absolutely ways that we’re able to get better and back to our style of basketball, and we’ll get there. But we need to take steps in the right direction these last 10 games.”

Up Next -- After Saturday’s disappointing stopover at The Q, the Wine and Gold get right back on the road – traveling to San Antonio for a Monday night matchup with the Spurs followed by a Thursday night showdown with the Bulls in Chicago. On Friday night, they close out the month of March against Philly at The Q – the first of three at home, welcoming the Pacers and Magic to Cleveland before a huge late-season matchup in Boston on April 5.

Calls of the Game