The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 130-122 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here's analysis of what went down...
The Cavs are still the Cavs: Even after losing four straight entering the much-anticipated matchup, the Cleveland Cavaliers issued an emphatic reminder to the Wizards why they have represented the Eastern Conference in three straight NBA Finals. The Wizards are close and both sides know it. But LeBron James wasn't interested in seeing an upstart Wizards team make a statement on national television.
James was brilliant from start to finish. The Wizards threw multiple looks at him. He either scored the ball himself or found his teammates for open threes, consistently killing any Wizards' attempt at a game-changing run.
James was electric in the first half, throwing down multiple poster dunks. He had 15 points in the first quarter, shooting 6-of-7 from the field. In the second half, he went to work in the post.
The Wizards tried guarding him with Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. in the first half. None of them worked. John Wall even guarded him on multiple possessions in the second half. All LeBron did was back him down and drop fadeaways in over his block attempts with ease.
In the fourth quarter, the Wizards went super small. Marcin Gortat didn't play and at times they had Jodie Meeks at the three and Porter at the five. That didn't stop LeBron, either.
James remains the best player in the world and he proved it once again against the Wizards. He ended up with 57 points, his most since 2014 and his second-most ever. It was the second straight game the Wizards allowed someone to hit the 40-mark following T.J. Warren of the Suns on Wednesday. It was the 11th time in James' career that he's hit 50 points or more.
In order to knock off the Cavs in the playoffs, the Wizards will have to find a way to deal with LeBron. Stopping him is unrealistic, but they have to limit him better than they did on Friday.
Defense optional: Much like the classic matchup between these teams in February, this game game was light on the defensive end. Both teams are struggling in that department and are also just plain good at scoring. The game was 25-24 Wizards at the 5:04 mark in the first quarter. Both teams shot 66 percent or higher in the frame.
The Wizards allowed 42 points in the first quarter meaning they gave up 149 points in a four-quarter stretch dating back to Wednesday's game against the Suns. That's not optimal. The scoring deluge continued on throughout the game. The halftime score was 74-66.
The Wizards know they have plenty to fix on defense and it was probably unrealistic they would correct everything against the defending conference champions. What will bother them about this on is their three-point defense, as the Cavs shot 12-for-27. Plus, Derrick Rose had 13 points in his first 9:30 of play. You can't let him go off like that. This isn't 2011.
Bradley Beal also had himself a game. After putting up 40 points against the Suns last game, he went off for 36 vs. Cleveland. It was again in a losing effort. The Wizards have now lost four of their last five games.
Injury scare: Wall fell to the ground writhing in pain late in the third quarter after colliding with Channing Frye. He was diagnosed with a sprained shoulder, though the Wizards don't yet know the severity.
Also worth noting about Wall: he shot 5-for-12 from the free throw line after going 0-for-4 last game.
Keef is back: The Wizards had a familiar face in the starting lineup on Friday, as Markieff Morris returned from a six-week recovery following sports hernia surgery. The Wizards went to Morris on the very first play in the post. He missed the shot, but ended up scoring their first points of the night.
Morris looked rusty overall. He finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting and never found a rhythm offensively. He also racked up three quick fouls in 16 total minutes, which wasn't good.
One moment involving Morris stood out. In the third quarter he and Jae Crowder got into an argument with teammates in between them to keep distance. That's the Keef we know and love.
Up next: The Wizards head out on a mini-road trip. They go north to play the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
[RELATED: PIERCE SAYS LEBRON SHOULD JOIN WIZARDS]