John Wall said Monday’s game against the Cavaliers was the biggest regular season game of his career. As it turned out, he was correct, but he didn’t get the result he wanted. The Wizards fell short against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 140-135, in what was possibly the best NBA game we’ve seen this season.
The Wizards built momentum from the jump with John Wall driving to the lane creating shot opportunities for everyone. They capped a strong first quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 32-26 lead.
Bradley Beal stepped up as a distributor in the second quarter, handing out four assists in the second quarter to go along with 16 first half points. His play, coupled with strong scoring from Markieff Morris helped the Wizards fend off the Cavs and take a three point lead into halftime.
Washington made some runs in the third quarter, but the period belonged to Cleveland. The Cavs went on a 16-4 run as LeBron James picked apart the Wizards with great passes to set up Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson for easy shots. The big run helped the Cavaliers take a four point lead into the fourth quarter.
It was an intense game for the first three quarters, but it went to a whole new level in the fourth quarter. The Wizards started the quarter on an 8-1 run, but after that, it was a back-and-forth battle for the rest of quarter as both teams traded shot after shot in the closing minutes. The teams combined for 11 threes in the fourth quarter, including LeBron hitting three shots from long range in a 97 second span.
But despite all that, it looked like the Wizards were going to pull out the win. Up by 1 with 12 seconds left, LeBron whiffed on a layup:
Otto Porter made both free throws on the other end, which gave LeBron one more chance to tie it. This time, he didn’t miss even though the degree of difficulty was much, much higher on this fading, turnaround three:
James fouled out less than a minute into overtime, but Kyrie Irving took over for Cleveland. He scored 11 in the overtime period, the second-most for any player in an overtime this season, second only to Russell Westbrook, who scored 14 against Washington back in November. It was enough to hold the Wizards off and snap the team’s seven-game winning streak and 17-game win streak at the Verizon Center.
It was a crazy game with 9 lead changes. There was a playoff atmosphere in the building throughout the game. Even though the Wizards fell short, a game like this shows Washington can do more than just hang with the Eastern Conference elite. They showed in this one they’re not going to settle for being an also-ran in the playoff race. Every team that faces them is going to need to bring their A-Game and then some to take down this team.