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Wrap-Up – “All for One, One for All” is the Cavaliers motto. On Friday night in the nation’s capital, it looked like their gameplan – getting strong contributions from every player who touched the floor to snap a six-game skid in dramatic fashion, closing out the Wizards at the stripe for the dramatic 115-113 win.
It’d be difficult to imagine the Wine and Gold facing more adversity than they were heading into Friday game in D.C. One day earlier, general manager Chris Grant was let go after three-plus years on the job. They had dropped six straight by an average double-digit margin. And their starting small forward, Luol Deng, was out sick. About the only thing the Cavs had going for them entering Friday’s contest was that they’d won the previous three matchups on the Wizards’ home floor.
Dion Waiters helped make it four – leading Cleveland with 24 points, going 11-for-18 from the floor in 33 minutes off the bench. Kyrie Irving doubled-up with 23 points and a career-high-tying 12 assists. Irving was 5-of-11 and 13-of-13 from the stripe, including four big free throws in the final minute of Friday’s victory. CJ Miles notched 12 of his 18 points in the first quarter. Alonzo Gee played big minutes with Deng out and pitched in with 11 points and seven boards. Tristan Thompson rounded out the Cavs in double-figures with 10 points and eight boards.
In a perfect microcosm of how each player contributed, starting guard Jarrett Jack was the only Cavalier who saw time but didn’t score. He even missed both free throws that could’ve put Cleveland up two possessions with 2.2 to play – but instead of hanging his head, he knocked the in-bounds pass away, leaving Washington without enough time to attempt a game-winning shot.
Turning Point – With just over four minutes to play, the Cavaliers looked to be in control – leading Washington by a dozen, 103-91. But John Wall keyed a quick 5-0 run to get the Wizards within striking distance. Bradley Beal missed an easy layup that would have cut it to five and Dion Waiters missed a 17-footer on the Cavs’ end. But Alonzo Gee crushed home the offensive rebound to stem momentum and put the Cavs up nine – 105-96 – with under three minutes to play.
Game Ball – Alonzo Gee – The consummate pro, Alonzo Gee hasn’t pouted over reduced minutes; instead staying ready for an opportunity like Friday night. In 27 minutes – his most action since December 20 – Gee went 4-of-6 from the floor for 11 points, including a pair of huge put-back dunks. Three of Gee’s seven rebounds were on the offensive glass and he added an assist, steal and blocked shot in the win.
By the Numbers – 136-45 … combined points for the Cavaliers’ and Wizards’ reserves through the first three games this season. Cleveland’s second unit had outscored Washington’s, 78-19, through the first two contests and 58-26 on Friday.
Up Next – The Cavaliers have just three more games until the league celebrates the unofficial end of the first half next weekend on Bourbon Street. On Sunday evening at The Q, the Wine and Gold welcome Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies to The Q. On Tuesday, it’s DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings in town. On Wednesday, the Cavs head to All-Star Break after battling the Pistons in Motown.
Watch Highlights: Cavaliers 115, Wizards 113