Irving's 26 leads Cavaliers over Wizards 87-84


Irving's 26 leads Cavaliers over Wizards 87-84

WASHINGTON (AP) Tristan Thompson's three-point play with 24.4 seconds remaining gave the Cleveland Cavaliers their first two-game winning streak of the season as the Cavaliers beat the Washington Wizards 87-84 on Wednesday night.

Kyrie Irving, who had 26 points to lead Cleveland, made one of two free throws with 9.5 seconds left after Jordan Crawford and Garrett Temple missed jumpers for the Wizards. Crawford made two free throws with 8.5 seconds left to cut the lead to 86-84. Irving hit one of two, and Crawford missed a 3-pointer as time ran out.

Irving had 20 of his 26 points in the first half for the Cavaliers, who improved to 7-23. Two of their wins are against Washington, losers of eight straight.

Thompson had a season-high 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Crawford and Emeka Okafor led the Wizards with 17 points and Nene had 16.

Washington took a 79-73 lead with 6:20 to play, but Cleveland scored nine straight points to take an 82-79 lead with 3:37 left.

The Wizards were held scoreless for 4 1-2 minutes until Okafor hit a hook shot with 1:50 to play to cut the Cavaliers' lead to 82-81. Irving missed two free throws with 1:01 to play, and Okafor hit one of two with 46.2 seconds to play for an 82-all tie.

The Wizards broke on top 22-10 with 4:51 to play in the first quarter, thanks to Nene's 10 points. Cleveland's Irving had 12 of his 20 first-half points in the second quarter to help the Cavaliers grab a 45-43 halftime lead.

Washington started Shelvin Mack at the point. It was Mack's first NBA start. The second-year guard had been cut by the Wizards at the end of training camp, and re-signed on Tuesday after a strong stint in the D-League.

Mack was starting because Crawford was late to Wednesday's shootaround according to a team source. Before the game, Washington coach Randy Wittman said that Crawford was benched for a violation of team rules.

The Wizards scored 12 straight points to take a 62-53 lead with just over 7 minutes left in the third quarter with Mack hitting consecutive 3-pointers.

Irving missed all five of his field goal attempts in the third quarter, but hit two free throws to tie the score at 68-all to end the period.

NOTES: Shaun Livingston, who was waived after Saturday's game by the Wizards, was on the Cavaliers' bench after his Tuesday signing. Coach Byron Scott said he would evaluate Livingston, who's playing with his seventh NBA team, after Thursday's practice. ... Cleveland C Anderson Varejao missed his fourth game with a bruised right knee. Scott said he would be evaluated on Thursday. ... Temple, who signed on Tuesday, had two points.

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.