The Washington Wizards were able to hang around Wednesday but ultimately fell short in a 114-106 affair against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Capital One Arena.
The Wizards never trailed by more than five points in the first half. In fact, Washington led throughout the majority of the first two quarters thanks to hot shooting and strong early performances from Kyle Kuzma and Corey Kispert.
Kuzma led the Wiz with 18 points on 7/13 shooting, while Kispert added 13 points of his own. Both players combined for seven threes in the first half as Washington shot a scorching 10/22 from deep. But despite outplaying the Cavs on the stat sheet in most areas, the game was tied 57 all at the break.
Cleveland looked like it was ready to take control of the game to start the third. They started the quarter on a 7-0 run. But after a Strus layup made the score 68-61 at the 9:01 mark, Washington battled back.
The Wizards went on a 13-0 run capped off by a Kuzma and-1 that gave him 28 points on the night. But after hanging with the red-hot Cavaliers for most of the night, the Wizards appeared to gradually run out of steam after that Q3 burst.
Washington kept things close for most of the fourth quarter. Midway through Q4 was when Donovan Mitchell started to play the role of closer. He scored 14 of his 40 points in the final frame to push his team ahead toward the finish line. Kuzma, who had kept pace with Mitchell throughout the game, was held scoreless in the fourth.
Jordan Poole hit his nadir as a Wizard, going scoreless the entire way and taking contested threes during crunch time to crush any hope of a comeback. He went 0/5 and ended up fouling out of a night where the Capital One Arena crowd showered him with boos at times. It was the first time he was held scoreless since the 2020-21 campaign.
Kuzma finished with 28 points and 4 rebounds. Daniel Gafford arguably outplayed his center counterpart Jarrett Allen with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Kispert came a live with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 threes off the bench.
Next up, the Wizards head to Boston on Friday to take on the top-seeded Celtics.