Washington gave up 130 points, including 57 to LeBron James, as the Wizards fell at home for the second straight game Friday night. With the 130-122 loss, Washington is back at .500 after starting the season 3-0.
The game started off with both teams not understanding the meaning of defense, they combined for 78 first quarter points, led by 13 from Derrick Rose. He was aggressive going to the basket, making several acrobatic layups reminiscent of his early Chicago Bulls days.
Fortunately for the Wizards, the Cavaliers didn’t do much better providing resistance. Marcin Gortat was the most productive offensive player through stretches in the first half. He took advantage of some nice passes in the pick-and-roll as well as favorable matchup against Kevin Love. The story of the half really became who was going to finally clamp down on defense to slow the other teams scoring. The answer was neither. At the half, the score was 74-66 in favor of Cleveland.
In the second half, the Wizards continued to struggle on the defensive end and the Cavaliers expanded their lead. The Wizards attempted to make comebacks but they could only get as close as 6 before the Cavaliers ultimately put the game away behind the huge night from LeBron James.
Wizards’ defense continues to be problematic
The Wizards gave up 30+ points over six straight quarters stretching from the last three quarter of Wednesday’s game through the first three quarters against Cleveland. The Cavaliers shot 66 percent from the field in the first half, including 64 percent from deep. The Cavs also shot 17 for 19 from the free throw line in the half. The Wizards failed on several plays to find their man in transition defense leading to open shots for the Cavaliers. It was just a putrid effort.
The Cavaliers finished the night shooting 56 percent from the field and 44 percent beyond the arc. This was the second consecutive game that the Wizards have given up more than 120 points.
The Wizards had no answer for LeBron James
Speaking of defense, LeBron James went for a season-high 57 points. He had the ability to go wherever he wanted on the floor and it didn’t matter who was guarding him.
In the third quarter, James started to impose his will and helped expand the lead to 17 points for Cleveland. He stayed in the game in the beginning of the fourth against a mostly Wizards’ bench lineup and forced switches, took on smaller players like Meeks or Frazier and used his matchups against them to force the defense to bend to his will. That allowed him to get his teammates more open looks, or if the help came late, he got easy baskets. All in all, the Wizards struggled with reacting to LeBron James’ decisions and he picked them apart.
Bradley Beal goes for 36 in a losing effort
Beal has had a good stretch recently. Tonight, he did a great job attacking the basket. So far this season he has not gotten his 3-point shot going, but he has done a great job of finding seams to attack the basket. He finished with 36 points on 19 shots, even though he only made one of his five 3-point attempts.
In the fourth quarter, Tim Frazier failed to switch off on a screen that saw LeBron James go to the basket only to be fouled by Ian Mahinmi. Scott Brooks was quick to give Frazier the hook and put Beal in as the point guard. It will be interesting to see if this is something that is used more going forward.
- This was Markieff Morris’ first game of the season after returning from hernia surgery and it was clear that he was rusty. He looked a step slow, missed a number of open looks and just looked like he needs some time before he gets his rhythm back.
- Kelly Oubre will be under investigation by the league for a NSFW message on the coat he wore to the arena. He should expect to hear a call from the league’s office soon and may perhaps have some lighter pockets.
- Markieff Morris received a controversial flagrant foul contesting a Jae Crowder layup.
- John Wall has struggled from the free throw line the past few games. After going 0 for 4 from the line on Wednesday vs. the Suns, Wall shot 5 for 13 tonight.
- LeBron James had a strong fourth quarter which featured numerous post-ups against smaller defenders. Eventually, Wall became the primary defender against LeBron with occasional help coming over, but it didn’t matter, as he did what he wanted on the offensive end.
Next up: The Wizards head to Toronto to face the Raptors at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.