Even though Alan Anderson didn't play Friday night, he knew what it would take for the Wizards to have a chance to win their season-high fifth game in a row and get over .500 for the first time since Nov. 24.
"Our start and our finish," Anderson said about the key to beating the Cleveland Cavaliers. "We know our defense creates our offense. Got to limit our turnovers and crash the boards. They hit the boards hard. We do that we got a good chance to win"
The Wizards (30-31), who beat Cleveland 113-99 last weekend and led by as many as 30 in that game, rebounded on even terms (47-47) but were otherwise dominated from start to finish in a 108-83 loss.
John Wall (17 points, seven assists, eight rebounds) was the only player who had any sort of rhythm. Markieff Morris (13 points), Ramon Sessions (12 points), Bradley Beal (11 points) and Marcin Gortat (10 points, nine rebounds, three blocks) were the only other double-figure scorers.
Cleveland had four players in double-figure scoring by halftime. In the end, Kyrie Irving (21 points, eight assists) was followed by LeBron James (19 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, three steals), Timofey Mozgov (14 points), Matthew Dellavedova (12 points), J.R. Smith (10 points) and Tristan Thompson (10 points, seven rebounds).
The season series ends tied at 2 with each team going 1-1 on their home floor.
Saturday, the Wizards play the Indiana Pacers and have a chance to get back to .500. With the season series is tied at 1, the winner has the tiebreaker edge which is crucial for postseason positioning.
- Turnovers did them in from the beginning. The Wizards had 10 in the first half, four committed by Beal alone, that put Cleveland in transition and got them easy baskets in the paint. James' first two field goals came from steals of passes from Beal that led to dunks that started the game going downhill. Conversely, the Wizards only forced two which kept Wall out of the open court and made it more difficult for him to create offense for others.
- Beal started the third quarter over Garrett Temple (0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds in 27 minutes) with the Wizards needing an offensive explosion to turn the tide. It didn't work. In his previous four games, Temple has scored 0, 2, 7 and 2. Could Beal get the start Saturday? Perhaps. But he's still on a minutes restriction and it's the second game of a back-to-back. He played 28 minutes and was just 4 of 12 shooting. When Temple is at his best, the Wizards are able to turnover the opponent and get out in transition. The Cavs only had nine giveaways.
- After a season-high 18 points in the last game, Anderson was held out because of rest. Not having him because of his size and more physical play on the perimeter against a team with James hurt. The Cavs didn't have Kevin Love (rest) but defensively he has proven to be a bad matchup as Wall and Beal repeatedly put him in pick-and-rolls.
- Wall was fouled by Dellavedova on a drive and came down awkwardly. He grabbed his left ankle but was able to leave the court during the timeout and return. Wall has been dealing with a sore ankle since the fourth game of the regular season when he hurt himself in a home win over the San Antonio Spurs. He only played 28 minutes.
- The Wizards couldn't take full advantage of their mismatches with Morris and Otto Porter in the post. They were able to get switches with Irving and Iman Shumpert taking on the defensive assignments but the production wasn't there. Porter had another performance where it was hard to recall that he was even on the court (1 of 5 shooting, four points, 28 minutes). They also had issues matching up with James when he moved to power forward and ran 1-4 pick-and-rolls. It produced pass backs to the arc for open three-point shots for Cleveland (12 of 27, 44.4%). The bad defense carried over to the Wizards' offense (14 assists, 16 turnovers) as the ball rarely moved side to side which is when the Wizards are at their best. The Cavs did exactly that to them.