The Wizards' home streak is over at Verizon Center following Monday’s 140-135 overtime loss to the East’s No. 1 team, but they at least proved that they belonged in their most exciting game of the season.
Markieff Morris' putback of John Wall's layup almost was the game-winning shot with 12.2 seconds left as LeBron James missed a layup — and took four steps to get there — that could've put his team back ahead. But after Wall made two free throws, James banked in an improbable three-pointer with three-tenths of a second left to force the extra session.
It was the Wizards' second announced sellout of the season as they failed to avenge a 105-94 loss here to the Cavaliers on Nov. 11 when they were a very different team.
Bradley Beal, who was out injured for that game, exploded (41 points) but made the clutch play of the game at 4:13 in overtime when he drew James' sixth foul to send him to the bench for good. But Kyrie Irving's five-point outburst — after a 7-0 run post-James — created the separation needed.
Otto Porter (25 points), John Wall (22 points, 12 assists), Markieff Morris (15 points) and Marcin Gortat (16 points, eight rebounds) were the supporting cast, and Kelly Oubre (11 points, four steals) came off the bench to wreak havoc on both ends.
Oubre drained a three for a 127-122 lead in overtime.
Neither team could pull away as each shot better than 50 percent from the field for the first three quarters. But after a series of threes from James (32 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists) had the Cavaliers ahead late in the fourth, it was threes from Beal and then Porter to put them up 110-107 with three minutes left.
The Cavs responded with threes from Kyle Korver (13 points) and Kevin Love (39 points, 12 rebounds) to go ahead 116-112 the last 1:32. Then Beal tied the score at 116 with 43.8 seconds left after Gortat blocked James at the rim.
Love had a 15-point outburst in the third to get Cleveland (35-15) back on top 86-82 entering the fourth. James set up everyone else and Tristan Thompson (22 points, 12 rebounds) cleaned up in the paint, but Irving (23 points) was relatively speaking held in check by Wall until the extra period when he put Cleveland up for good with two foul shots, 138-135 with 10.2 seconds left.
--Unlike in the first meeting, when Wall had 23 points in the first half because there was no Beal to spread the floor, he lived in the paint. Even though his final numbers weren’t spectacular, the open shots were generated by his penetration to break down the defense.
--The second unit, with Beal and Morris starting the fourth, got the Wizards ahead. Beal had mismatches when defended by Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye attempting to contain him off the dribble. Oubre came on defense as he jumped a passing lane to Korver and got on the end of a fast break to finish a dunk thanks to a steal and assist from Tomas Satoransky.
--When the Wizards went to the small-ball lineup with Porter as the “stretch” option, they again had difficulty dealing with Love who’d post him up. Love had a fade across the lane midway through the fourth, but Porter responded. Oubre, however, picked up his fourth foul at 6:15 getting caught on Love in the same spot for a three-point play.
--Morris picked up his second foul at 7:26 of the first quarter defending Love. Morris sparked the Wizards with his assist to Beal for an open three early in the third and his close out of Love on the three-point arc that led to him getting a charge. But after shooting an airball three himself, Morris picked up his third at 7:35 of the third setting a screen. Morris was hit with his fifth with 9:36 left fighting off a screen. He fouled out in the OT, as did Oubre.
--The hard trap of the ball led to passes to Thompson, who was setting most of the screens, diving to the basket. He was 6 of 8 in the first half which actually was a good thing for the Wizards. That meant less three-point bombs and shots for Irving and James.
-- Porter is undersized when defending James, but he was perfect on the offensive end making 5 of 5 shots, including all three looks from three-point range, and created for others. James closed him out hard in the corner and Porter attack dribbled, drew the help defenders and delivered a bounce pass to Morris for a layup for a 53-48 lead. On the next possession, Wall had a bad pass turnover to James but Porter got back and in front of the full-speed rush and stripped the ball off of his leg to get possession back.