Here's your recap roundup for the Wizards' 95-90 loss to the Cavaliers. As always, check out our StoryStream as well as these postgame interviews with John Wall, Nene and Martell Webster, courtesy of Monumental Network.
When the Wizards and Cavaliers met for the third and final time Tuesday, it was Wall's turn to put on a show as Irving looked on from the bench with a sprained left shoulder. Wall posted season highs with 27 points and 14 assists, but any advantage the Wizards thought they had against the Cavaliers was negated by their own loss of rookie Bradley Beal and later Trevor Ariza.
John Wall led Washington with a season-high 27 points, but the Wizards couldn't convert down the stretch and have league's worst road record at 5-25. Cleveland swept the three-game series from Washington, a fact that didn't get by Wall.
''We got swept by Cleveland and Detroit, who are good teams and everything, but we just felt like we were better than them,'' he said. ''Instead, we went 0-7, which is tough.''
I must give major kudos to John Wall for the game he played out there. He single handedly kept us in it all night, with the aggressive nature we've been begging for all season and found his teammates time and time again. It's possible that he's heard the backlash from his less than stimulating interview with Zach Lowe yesterday and had something to prove. Wall put in 37 minutes of work, racking up 27 points, 14 assists, and 7 rebounds. Some 3rd quarter foul trouble put him on the bench and the Cavs used this opportunity to blow the game open. Ultimately this turned out to be the pivotal point of the game, as the Wizards were never able to recover and trailed the rest of the way. By the time Washington cut the lead back down to 3 late in the 4th quarter, we did everything in their power to ensure it never got any closer. My favorite plays of that segment included a couple missed bombs from Ray Allen AJ Price, A dropped pass by Martell Webster prior to a potential corner 3, and the always lovable Nene losing a jump ball to a guard who is a few years removed from the most horrific basketball injury that most of us have ever seen. I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, John Wall - great game, sad to see it wasted.
The Wizards' reserves combined to go 4 for 21 from the field (19 percent) and were outscored, 27-11, by the Cavaliers' bench. Backup swing man Wayne Ellington outscored the Wizards' bench by himself as he scored 12 points.
The issue did not stem from the starting five - in fact, each starter tallied double-digit points and Emeka Okafor and Nene added 11 and 10 rebounds respectively. Wall also notched 14 assists and seven rebounds to add to the Wizards' efforts.
Where the problem lied, instead, was the bench. The entire bench, collectively, recorded 11 points total. In 23 minutes of play, A.J. Price boasted just three points and two assists, and in 13 minutes, Trevor Booker added just two free throws to the scoreboard.
Washington's bench in this game was non-existent. AJ Price was the second unit's leading scorer with 3 points, and a few others chipped in with 2 points each. Trevor Ariza, despite his good play lately, was a complete non-factor and Chris Singleton looked like he shouldn't have logged minutes at all.
Washington's bench also played poor defensively, allowing Cleveland's CJ Miles and Wayne Ellington combine for 22 points.
It's a familiar theme for Washington. In an 87-82 loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 6, there were seven fourth-quarter turnovers. The Wizards started the month by losing 96-88 to the New York Knicks, committing six turnovers in the final period.
"Teams that do a great job of turning turnovers into points -- that's how we've lost a lot of games -- and that's when we've got most of our turnovers, is in the fourth quarter," Wall said. "We've got to do a better job of that, learn how to close out the game without turning the ball over."
The Wizards' offensive struggles continued in the third quarter as they would manage just another 16 points while the Cavs would shoot 56% from the field in the third quarter to take an 11 point lead. The Cavaliers maintained their double digit lead for much of the fourth quarter until the Wizards would go on an 8-0 run late to cut the Cavs lead to just three. The Wizards would not be able to complete the comeback though and Cavs hung on for the win.
Both teams shot just 41% from the field but it was the Cavs bench play that was the difference. The Cavs bench outscored the Wizards' bench 29-11, led by Wayne Ellington's 12.
However, the Wizards bench was outscored 29-11 and the team fell apart offensively after a fast start in the first quarter. The Wiz bench hit only 4 of 21 shots from the field and missed 3 of 6 from the stripe. A key loss for the bench was Trevor Ariza, the team's best wing defender and a key contributor on offense and the glass in recent weeks. Ariza hurt his knee in the first half, didn't play the second half and was able to give the team only 2 point and 2 rebounds in less than 12 minutes. It is unknown how serious Ariza's injury is or if he would miss additional time.
Gee, who played two stints with Washington with the last being 11 games in the 2010-11 season, only shot 5-for-15 but had 17 points. PG Shaun Livingston, who was cut by the Wizards in December, started in place of Irving. He shot 6-for-9 for 12 points and six assists.
Waiters led the Cavs with 20 points, Alonzo Gee added 17 and Thompson had 13 points and 14 rebounds. Livingston, taking over at point guard while Kyrie Irving is out three to four weeks with a sprained left shoulder suffered Sunday in Toronto, finished with 12 points and six assists.
It wasn't a particularly pretty win, but they got the job done. Shaun Livingston stepped up and then Dion Waiters got it going in the second half. Waiters started getting some foul calls and then iced it at the line to give the Cavs a solid 95-90 win. Dion finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
This game also really solidified to me that Shaun Livingston is a keeper. In 31 minutes, he was 6-of-9 from the field and had a 2-to-1-turnover ratio against one of the league's top young guards in Wall. With Irving entrenched as the starter for the long haul, Livingston is not going to start - but you don't even need him to. He'll give you 12-plus minutes a night (sometimes alongside Irving) and can give the Cavaliers some intriguing lineup options. In my mind, it's a no-brainer that he should be a Cavalier next season.