Recap: Beal returns, leads Wizards to 110-93 win over Cavs
FINAL: WIZARDS 110 | CAVALIERS 93
In his first game back after missing three games, Bradley Beal totaled 29 points, six rebounds and tied his season high with 10 assists to lead the Wizards to a 110-93 win over the Cavaliers on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Beal’s return, as well as those of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Anthony Gill, were a welcome boost to a Wizards team missing regular contributors Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrel, Aaron Holiday and Raul Neto due to health and safety protocols and Davis Bertans due to a non-COVID illness.
Beal wasted no time making an impact in his first game back, scoring 21 of his 29 points in the first half, the most points he’s scored in any half this season. The star guard shot 9-13 (.692) before halftime and scored or assisted on all three buckets of a 6-0 run to close the second quarter that gave Washington a 58-51 lead at the half.
“He’s been in these situations before in 10 years in the NBA,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said postgame. “He knows how to keep his body right and keep himself ready. It’s the sign of a professional. It’s never ideal to miss game action, but there are things you can do to keep yourself mentally sharp, physically in-tune – but there’s no way to replicate (game action)…There was some fatigue early, but he didn’t lose any pop or bounce. He looked sharp.”
Between the second and third quarters, the Wizards used a 16-2 run to take a 15-point lead early in the second half – and never looked back. The run was capped by a pair of dunks from Kyle Kuzma, who played one of his best games of the season, finishing with 25 points, one shy of his season high, on 11-17 (.647) shooting and 10 rebounds. The performance marked Kuzma’s seventh 20-point game of the season, including two-straight, and his 13th game with double-digit rebounds.
Washington did its best work in the third quarter, outscoring Cleveland 33-21 and shooting 14-22 (.636) from the field and 3-6 (.500) from deep. The Wizards rode the hot shooting to a 20-point lead late in the third and never let Cleveland get any closer than 15 points in the fourth.
The Wizards turned to their reserves in the closing minutes of the game, including Jaime Echenique, who was called up from the Capital City Go-Go earlier in the day and became the first-ever Colombian-born player to play in an NBA game.
“I’m out of words,” an emotional Echenique said postgame.
“It’s been an amazing day,” he continued. “It’s been a hell of a year and this is the best way to close the year. I’m just happy. Happy for me, happy for my family, happy for my country and happy for the people that believe in me and happy for myself.”
Up next, the Wizards continue a four-game homestand on Saturday night, hosting the Bulls at 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena.