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Wizards at Cavaliers final score: 3 things we learned in Washington’s 96-91 win

Washington finally gets their first preseason win against a team not named the 76ers as Marcus Thornton closed things out.

NBA: Preseason-Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

One of the talking points of the Wizards’ 2016-17 preseason was that were winless against a team not named the Philadelphia 76ers. They finally got the monkey off their backs with a 96-91 win over the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers! With the win, Washington’s back to 3-3, while Cleveland has now lost four straight and is 2-4.

Though he wasn’t the leading scorer, Marcus Thornton was the player of the game given that he closed the game out when he scored 14 of his 16 points in the last quarter. Andrew Nicholson led all scorers with 19 points off the bench, shooting 7-of-8 from the field. For the Wizards’ starters, John Wall added 17 points and made three of five three pointers in 24 minutes of action.

For the Cavaliers, LeBron James led the way with 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Meanwhile, Kevin Love scored 15 points — all in the first quarter, while Tristan Thompson added 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and made all six of his shots.

Now that I got these basic stats out of the way, let’s get to some takeaways from this Tuesday matinee.

The Wizards did an admirable job to get themselves back in the game after a bad first quarter

Tuesday’s game was held at Ohio State University in Columbus. It’s not Cleveland, but since the Cavs are the only NBA team in Ohio, this isn’t just C-land’s NBA team, it’s Ohio’s NBA team. The crowd was definitely on Cleveland’s side tonight and the stage was set for a Cavs win, now that the starting lineup from their 2016 NBA championship run was back.

Cleveland was comfortably up ahead after the first quarter, 35-25, and they were also up by a many as 14 early in the second after James made a fast break layup off a Tomas Satoransky turnover.

However, the Wizards clawed their way back from that deficit to just four by the end of the half, and started strong in the third quarter by going on a 9-0 run early in the third quarter. They shot just 28.6 percent overall, but scored 10 points off of six Cleveland turnovers which helped make this game winnable in the fourth quarter when Marcus Thornton and the second unit finished the game off against Cleveland’s.

Sure, this game is just preseason basketball. But there’s no harm in closing out a game regardless of all the circumstances.

That said, Cleveland’s starting five still outplayed Washington’s tonight

I’ll take any win. But Cleveland played their starting lineup against Washington’s in the first at full intensity and still came out ahead.

Though James and Kyrie Irving didn’t do much on the scoreboard, Kevin Love scored all 15 of his points in the first quarter, including three made three pointers. When your team plays an All-Star laden team like the Cavaliers, chances are good that someone from the core is going to erupt.

In addition to Love, Thompson also had a strong performance all game. He was also more efficient than Marcin Gortat, who scored just four points on 2 of 6 shooting, though he did grab 13 rebounds.

And speaking about Irving, he also left the game early due to calf tightness.

The Wizards’ three point shooting woes continue

The Wizards shot 6 of 19 from three, or 31.8 percent from the field. Once you take away Wall’s 3-of-5 shooting performance from deep, the rest of the team shot just 3 of 14, or 21.4 percent. Jake noted this as a concern earlier on Tuesday, and tonight’s performance didn’t do much to quell concerns that this team is past the worst of a shooting slump.

What’s ahead

There’s just one more preseason game left as the Wizards host the Toronto Raptors on Friday. Don’t be surprised to see Scott Brooks rest most of the starters so that some could get a whole week of rest before the regular season opener against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, October 27.