Not having Bradley Beal matters. The Wizards were short-handed vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, and while John Wall carried the weight of the offense early they didn't have enough firepower in a 105-94 loss.
Wall (28 points) only had three assists, but 23 of his points came in the first two quarters. Markieff Morris (20 points) and Otto Porter (11 points, 8 rebounds) trailed Wall.
Cleveland (7-1) was led by LeBron James (27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists), Kyrie Irving (29 points, 6 assists) and Kevin Love (14 points, 16 rebounds).
- Wall took 17 shots by halftime and scored 23 points by making 11 of them. That was good for the Wizards, but on the downside he wasn’t able to get many of his teammates involved in the offense. Marcin Gortat and Marcus Thornton, who started in place of Beal (right thigh), were scoreless at the break. The Cavs went under every screen-roll between Wall and Gortat and gave him the elbow jumper. He made it at a high rate but they were able to take others out of the offense. In the second half, the Wizards didn't run as much pick-and-roll which is their bread and butter.
- After not playing in the last game, Kelly Oubre was the primary spark off the bench in the first half. He played 10 minutes and was 4-for-4. Because of his length and defensive upside, his 7-2 wingspan was needed to help cover a floor James and so many shooters. He even spent time on the court simultaneously with Porter and got over the top of Love to deflect a pass to the low post that produced a transition dunk for Oubre, too.
- The Cavs are among the best teams in the league at protecting the ball, but they had five turnovers in the first seven minutes as the Wizards got out to a lead that grew to 12 by the second quarter. Three-point shooting (7-for-15) and only committing five more entering the fourth quarter which they entered leading 84-75.
- Against a fast-paced offense, Andrew Nicholson isn’t getting time in the rotation. Nicholson didn’t get off the bench at all and only has played 31 total minutes in the previous four games. Oubre took those minutes and Jason Smith as the low post big off the bench.
- Gortat wasn’t able to fully take advantage of his matchup with Love, the weakest frontline defender for Cleveland. Instead they cross-matched because Tristan Thompson’s defense was more valuable on Morris. Gortat didn’t get his first field goal until a dunk 8:44 into the third quarter. A better adjustment, which Brooks didn't make, likely would've been shifting Morris to the five spot in place or Gortat, with Porter as the stretch four and Oubre at the three. That would've forced Cavs coach Ty Lue to either pull Love or have him match up with Porter or Morris who could've attacked his feet. If he chose to go with Thompson instead, that at least takes an offensive weapon off the floor.
- Sheldon McClellan played his most significant minutes of the season, starting the fourth quarter and he made his first shot. Going forward, with Wall sitting vs. the Chicago Bulls on Saturday and Beal possibly still out, he'll likely be the first rookie called to contribute off the bench. Danuel House was active for the first time this season.
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