Washington Wizards v Cleveland Cavaliers
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 30: Ish Smith #14 of the Washington Wizards drives to the basket during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 30, 2021 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Recap: Defense leads Wizards to 122-93 win in Cleveland

FINAL: Wizards 122 | Cavaliers 93

BOX SCORE | HIGHLIGHTS

SCORING LEADERS

Wizards: Bradley Beal (19), Raul Neto (17), Russell Westbrook (15)

Cavaliers: Collin Sexton (22), Cedi Osman (14), Jarrett Allen (13)

SUMMARY

The Wizards defeated the Cavaliers 122-93 on Friday night in Cleveland in their first game of a road back-to-back. Washington has now won 10 of its last 11 games and four in a row on the road as it opens a difficult stretch away from home. Bradley Beal led seven Wizards scoring in double figures, including Russell Westbrook, who notched the 177th triple-double of his career with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

Offenses dominated early as the Wizards and Cavaliers combined for 65 points on 47.0% shooting in a back-and-forth first quarter that featured seven lead changes and seven ties. Beal and Rui Hachimura combined to score 14 of Washington’s first 18 points. After trailing 30-26 with less than two minutes left in the first, a Westbrook layup sparked a 9-0 run to give the Wizards a five-point lead going into the second quarter. After a Raul Neto three put Washington up seven early in the second quarter, Cleveland put together a 9-0 run in just under two minutes to take a two-point lead. Just seconds after subbing back into the game, Daniel Gafford picked up his third foul of the night with 3:59 left in the half. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks chose to leave the big man in the game – a decision that paid off on the defensive end. The Cavaliers hit just one field goal in the final four minutes of the half as Washington took back the leading heading into the break.

Over the final six minutes of the third quarter, the Wizards held the Cavaliers to 1-9 (.111) shooting and just four points, turning a four-point lead into a 23-point advantage heading into the fourth. The Washington bench did most of the damage, scoring 19 of the Wizards’ 33 points in the third. Neto led the way in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points on 5-5 (1.000) from the field. Aside from his seven minutes and 3:01 of action for Westbrook, the Wizards relied entirely on their bench to close out the win. Washington shot 13-18 (.722) from the field and never let Cleveland within 20 points in the final frame.

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

Westbrook within five of breaking triple-double record

Westbrook did not score until the final two minutes of the first quarter, but made plenty of early impact, registering five rebounds and five assists in the opening frame. Once he managed to get on the scoreboard, Westbrook kept attacking. He scored five of his 15 points in the final 1:45 of the first quarter. With 177 career triple-doubles, Westbrook now sits five shy of breaking Oscar Robertson’s record for the most in NBA history. It was also Westbrook’s 31st of the season, tying Wilt Chamberlain for the fourth-highest single-season total in league history and extended his NBA record for most triple-doubles in a calendar month with 14. Westbrook’s 11 assists secured his 42nd game of the season with 10-plus assists. Other than Westbrook, no player in the league has more than 27 such games this season.

Wizards’ bench continues hot streak

While Beal and Westbrook combined for just 34 points, the reserves stepped up. Washington’s bench totaled 56 of the team’s 122 points and shot 22-36 (.611) as a group. Entering the game, Washington’s bench unit ranked third in the NBA in scoring in the last 10 outings and fourth during the entire month of April. Gafford and Smith led the way on Friday with 24 points on 11-15 (.733) shooting. Smith, who finished with a game-high plus-minus of plus-34, did a little bit of everything, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Gafford scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds and was plus-28 in 22 minutes. Anthony Gill scored 10 points, his second double-digit scoring effort in the last three games.

Wizards share the workload in first outing of back-to-back

With the win, Washington improves to 8-2 in the first game of its last 10 back-to-backs. More importantly, the margin of victory on Friday night in Cleveland allowed the Wizards to open up their rotation late in the game and get some of the high-usage players some well-earned rest before Saturday’s game in Dallas. Westbrook, Beal and Rui Hachimura, who rank 1-3 on the team in minutes, each came in below their season average. All 14 active players saw the court and 11 played at least 10 minutes.

NEXT UP: Wizards at Mavericks / Saturday, May 1 / 9:00 P.M. / American Airlines Center

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT

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