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Wizards fall to Cavs, served reminder of LeBron James' dominance

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Wizards fall to Cavs, served reminder of LeBron James' dominance

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]

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Wizards at Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards at Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Nic Batum and the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Spectrum Center
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

On the road again

The Wizards have played eight of their last nine games at home, but that is all about to change. Wednesday night's game against the Hornets will begin a five-game road trip and a stretch where 10 of their next 13 games are out of town. This will be a good test for the Wizards who have won six of their last nine, but still struggle to find consistency from game to game.

The Wizards' troubles against losing teams have been well-documented and this stretch will be an opportunity for them to right some wrongs. They begin with the Hornets, who beat them in their last meeting on Nov. 22. They will also see the Mavs and Hawks soon, two teams that pulled off upsets against them earlier this year.

PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER

Otto needs to get going

The Wizards could use more from Otto Porter who over the past year-plus has proven a capable third scoring option, but has not been providing much in that sense lately. Over his last seven games, Porter is averaging just 8.9 points on 37.7 percent shooting from the field and 20.8 percent from three. He's doing other things well, but the Wizards need more from him on offense.

Porter said he's trying to get his legs back after missing the team's game against the Bucks on Jan. 6, and only so many plays are run for him, but head coach Scott Brooks thinks there is more Porter can do to get himself opportunities. Brooks would like to see Porter get open and shoot more often. He wants Porter to be more aggressive and John Wall said pretty much the same. We'll see how Porter responds in Charlotte.

PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE

Hornets are playing better

It hasn't been a great season overall for the Hornets, who are 17-25 and currently 11th in the Eastern Conference, but they have been playing better lately. The Hornets have won four of their last six games including victories over the Pistons and Jazz. They also beat the Warriors and Bucks in recent weeks.

Kemba Walker has been leading the charge, per usual. Over his last 11 games, Walker is averaging 23.1 points 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals. Four games ago he dropped 41 points on the Mavericks. He will be a handful for Wall, but Wall is also playing very well lately with averages of 25.3 points and 11.0 assists per game in his last eight appearances.

PODCAST: BREAKING DOWN JOHN WALL'S SHOE DEAL

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Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Voting for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game's starters is now closed and though they have not fared well with fan ballots, the chances Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are picked as reserves seem good.

The All-Star reserves are chosen by NBA head coaches and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks thinks the Wizards should have two representatives.

"They're definitely both having All-Star years," Brooks said. "I can't vote for either one, but they are definitely in my mind two of the best guards in the East."

Wall, 27, is averaging 19.9 points and leads the Eastern Conference with 9.3 assists per game. He also leads all NBA guards with 1.1 blocks per game.

Bradley Beal, 24, is seventh in the East with 23.7 points per game and third among Eastern Conference guards. He is averaging a career-high 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

[PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE]

The 25-19 Wizards are currently in the playoff picture, which should help their cause for two All-Stars. But there is a lot of competition at the guard position.

Beal has done plenty to make the case he should be a first-time All-Star. He leads the Wizards in points and has played in every one of their games.

What could hold Wall back is that his numbers are down from last season and the fact he missed 11 games due to injury.

Brooks, though, thinks he should be in there and that it shouldn't be all that close.

"I think John is the best point guard in the East," he said.

Wall is certainly up there among the best point guards in the conference. His competition would be guys like Kyrie Iriving, Kyle Lowry and maybe Ben Simmons. Wall is a more versatile player than Irving and has better numbers than Lowry or Simmons.

The All-Star starters are announced on Jan. 18 and the full rosters will be revealed on Jan. 23. We'll see if Wall and Beal make the cut.

[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER]