Let’s face it. Most didn’t expect to see the Wizards beat the Cavaliers. They didn’t in a 105-94 loss at Verizon Center on Veteran’s Day night.
Still, most of us were wondering how they would fare against the defending NBA champions, in particular when Wizards head coach Scott Brooks announced that John Wall would play.
Washington started the game on the right note by racing to a 31-26 lead. The box score didn’t show it since they shot 10 of 19 from the field, but they played excellent defense in the first quarter by forcing the Cavaliers to commit six turnovers and score 10 points off of them. They were leading by as many as 12 early in the second quarter.
But Cleveland’s three point game was ultimately too much because they made 14 threes out of 33 attempts (42.4 percent) for the game. It seemed as if Cleveland was draining threes left and right at will, even when the Wizards were otherwise doing well defensively.
J.R. Smith made 5 of 9 threes and score 17 points. Kyrie Irving made another four threes and led all scorers with 29 points. And LeBron James also made three threes off of four attempts and scored 27 points. Our designated “Wiz Killer” Channing Frye made the remaining two for an 8 point performance.
For the Wizards, John Wall led Washington with 28 points while Markieff Morris added 20 more. Otto Porter (11) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (10) were the other Wizards who scored in double figures.
Now, let’s go through tonight’s takeaways:
The Wizards’ three point defense is getting them nowhere
The Wizards came into tonight’s game worst in the league in three point shot differential (-4.7 shots). They rank among the NBA’s worst in three pointers made on offense with 6.4 per game AND they allow opponents to make 11.1 a game. MEanwhile, the Cavaliers came into the game as one of the most three point shooting-heavy teams where they made 35.7 percent of their threes and made 13 threes a game.
Unfortunately, the three point shot came to haunt Washington once again in this loss. Sure, the Wizards led by 10 after the first quarter, but even then, the Cavaliers made 4 of 6 threes, and shot over 40 percent from three in every quarter in this game. That’s pathetic. Teams that allow opponents to make a large number of threes while consistently failing to do so themselves won’t win many games.
Wall was a tale of two halves
With Beal out of action due to a hamstring injury, Wall stepped in admirably as the Wizards’ primary scorer. I’m glad to see that Wall gave 100 percent tonight. His first half scoring was spectacular as he scored 23 points on 11 of 17 shooting.
In the second half however, he was quite pedestrian. He failed to score until the game was practically decided in the fourth quarter.
There were a good number of Wizards fans who wanted to see Wall sit out tonight and play tomorrow against the Chicago Bulls. I disagreed because Wall’s a competitor. If the Wizards are ultimately making the playoffs this season, I’d rather see him play against the Cavaliers tonight than the Bulls tomorrow and glad that he put forth a strong effort all night, even if the scoring wasn’t there for most of the second half.
Otto Porter continues to make big contributions in his breakout year
Effective wing players tend to be ball dominant scorers, or 3-and-D specialists in today’s NBA. Porter isn’t exactly known for his three point shooting. Instead, he’s known for being more of a jack of all-trades player who will fill in certain parts of the stat sheet when others can’t.
Wall was a bit more focused as a scorer tonight, so Porter quietly got five assists, four of them in the first half. He also got
The bench play has quietly improved
In the first few games of the season, nearly every reserve player looked horrible except for Tomas Satoransky. But Give credit to Oubre and Trey Burke (9 points) who played over 21 minutes each and played consistently while out on the court tonight. So if there’s a moral victory to be had, this was one of them.
The Wizards will head to Chicago tomorrow to play the Bulls. Gametime’s at 8 p.m. tomorrow. Wall won’t play, but good chance Beal will so the backcourt production should still be there.