Wrap-Up – The Cavaliers went toe-to-toe with the Wizards for three quarters on Sunday night at The Q, but Washington cooled Cleveland off in the final period – holding the shorthanded Wine and Gold to 11 points on 21 percent shooting and pulling away for the 96-83. The loss was the Cavs’ second straight after running off six straight victories.
Luol Deng led the Cavaliers with 17 points, but was just 4-of-13 from the floor. Deng wasn’t alone in the cool-shooting department – the Cavaliers shot 49 percent from the field as a team in the first half, but just 26 percent after intermission. Spencer Hawes played the majority of the second half and doubled-up with 16 points and 12 boards in his Quicken Loans Arena debut as a Cavalier. Tristan Thompson doubled-up for the fifth time in his last six games with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Kyrie Irving rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 15 points and a team-high five assists.
The Cavaliers were once again without the services of three key pieces – Dion Waiters (left knee hyperextension), CJ Miles (left ankle sprain) and Anderson Varejao (sore back).
Cleveland made 16 more trips to the stripe than the Wizards, but Washington sank six more treys and committed just five turnovers on the evening. Washington’s starters combined for 21 assists to 10 for the Cavaliers.
Turning Point – The fourth quarter proved to be the Wine and Gold’s undoing on Sunday, specifically the second half of the period, when Cleveland managed just five points in the final 6:24 of the ballgame. The game was well within reach at that point, with the Cavs trailing by just seven, 85-78. But Washington went on an 11-3 run to put the game on ice.
Game Ball – Spencer Hawes – In just his second game with the Cavaliers, Hawes came into the contest and changed the game in the second quarter, notching nine points and six boards in the period. He finished the first half with 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. He finished the affair 5-of-10 from the floor, including 1-of-4 from beyond the arc and 5-for-6 from the stripe. The best passing center in the NBA – coming into the game averaging 3.3 apg – also added four helpers on Sunday night.
By the Numbers – 15.5, 12.2 … scoring and rebounding averages for Tristan Thompson over his last six games, five of which he’s registered double-doubles. Thompson now has 27 on the season and 67 for his career.
Quotable – Kyrie Irving, on the Cavaliers getting it together for the season’s homestretch …
”There are so many things we have to figure out; new pieces, guys missing, but we’re not going to use that as an excuse. We just have to go out there and play basketball. Time is of the essence right now, especially when we want to do something special. We only have (25) games left to do it.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers wrapped up their four-game season series with Washington on Sunday night – splitting the set, two games apiece, with the road team winning each meeting. On Tuesday night, the Cavs have a chance to avenge Friday’s loss in Toronto when they welcome the Raptors to The Q. They hit the road immediately after, taking on Kevin Durant and the West-leading Thunder on Wednesday night in OKC. Cleveland closes out the month of February on Friday night when they welcome the Jazz to town.