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Takeaways from the Wizards' road win over Cavs behind John Wall's monster game

Takeaways from the Wizards' road win over Cavs behind John Wall's monster game

CLEVELAND – From the beginning, the focus that the Wizards had lacked in a recent spate of games since the All-Star break was back. And with 24 first-half points from John Wall, they got ahead early and stayed there as they begin a five-game road trip in style by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Wall (37 points, 11 assists) had his 47th double-double and Bradley Beal (27 points, six assists) were better than LeBron James (24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) and Kyrie Irving (23 points, four assists) as they finally won a game in the season series.

The Cavs (47-25) took it 2-1, but this victory was about more than just this game. It avenged an epic 140-135 overtime loss in D.C. on Feb. 6 when James banked in a three to force the extra session and Beal scored 41.

It keeps the Wizards (45-28) ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 seed in the East and re-establishes them as a legitimate contender after so-so performances with losses to the Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks and Raptors, the latter of whom owns the tiebreaker because they won the season series with Washington 2-1.

The start was fast and furious. Wall made 8 of 8 shots in the first quarter as he got into the paint, was confident in pulling up for jump shots when defenders went under the screen and was too much for Irving to handle.

When the Cavs went to Deron Williams, who has traditionally not fared well in the matchup with Wall, it wasn’t much better.

Jason Smith (10 points) was a spark off the bench as his putback with 1.1 seconds gave them a 71-61 lead at halftime when the lead was reduced to single digits. But it was Kelly Oubre (16 points, seven rebounds) who did the trick in the second half. Markieff Morris (14 points, six rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (10 points, five rebounds) also had their moments.

Oubre continued his streak of inspired play on both ends, having several key putbacks off missed shots late to push the lead to 115-105. Every time the Cavs produced a bucket, the Wizards matched to keep comfortably ahead. Cleveland emptied its bench with two minutes left to concede defeat. 

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 5: Things to clean up before the playoffs]

Kevin Love (17 points, seven rebounds) was held in check after posting 39 points and 12 rebounds in the last meeting. Tristan Thompson (nine points) was limited, too. He had 22 and 12 then. 

The Cavs led 8-7 in the first quarter but never again. They allowed the Wizards to shoot 49 of 82, or 59.8% from the field, and outrebound them 40-32.

--Wall went at Irving every chance he had. The Wizards cleared out his side of the floor and gave him the space to go 1 vs. 1 and finish or force help. When they did, Wall found open players. Cleveland had no answer. Wall also pushed the ball even when he didn’t have numbers to exploit Cleveland’s uncoordinated transition defense with great success. He combined with Beal to attempt 15 free throws. They made 14 of them. 

--The Wizards had gone away from establishing Gortat out of the gate in favor of more motion in the offense. But the first play was called for him as Beal set him a cross screen to get Gortat position. He drop stepped on Thompson and got the layup. The hustle and effort from Gortat and Morris -- both scrambled to the floor for a loose ball and Gortat fed Beal who went end to end for the and-1 -- one-upped Love and Thompson.

--James, who had his right cornea scratched in a win over the Hornets on Friday night, was allowed to wear eyewear for protection. But the league denied him wearing tinted ones which would give him a competitive advantage as defenders wouldn’t be able to read his eyes. James missed a three late in the first quarter. He soon would toss the eyewear to the floor in frustration and go without the rest of the way.

--Bojan Bogdanovic (lower back soreness) was a late scratch from the lineup. Before tipoff, coach Scott Brooks said all of his players were available but about 30 minutes before tipoff he was out. The Cavs didn’t have Iman Shumpert (knee).

--Beal had 41 points in the last meeting, taking advantage of his matchup as Irving marked him a lot early. The Cavs sent multiple bodies at him on the catch and he kept alive his dribble and beat them with the pass and began the game shooting 5-for-10 to complement Wall’s explosion. They gave Wall shots and he made them pay early. Beal had open looks constantly but shot just 2-for-6 on threes.

--Ian Mahinmi took a knee to the left hip/upper thigh from Richard Jefferson and was slow to rise in the first half. He stayed in the game but only played nine minutes and didn’t return. But it wasn’t because of injury, according to the team. They simply wanted to stay small with Morris at the five late and it worked. They forced the Cavs into series turnovers in the final minutes. One put Wall in transition and shoveling a pass to Porter for a dunk. They only forced 12 turnovers but converted them into 21 points. Mahinmi said after the game that he was sore but had a hip pointer. 

-- Morris didn’t pick up his first foul until 3:04 was left in the first half to prevent a breakaway. But by 1:03, he had three fouls. One came on a cheap reach-in which is what gets him into foul trouble so often. He was able to stay on the floor when the Wizards went to a small lineup in the fourth and not get into a deeper hole. He didn’t pick up his fourth until 3:37 remained.

--Oubre caused havoc in the fourth quarter. He ran out to challenge Jefferson (10 points) on a three that altered the trajectory to force a miss. He jumped the passing lane to James to cause a turnover and got out in transition for the layup. The Cavs had gotten it down to a two-possession game but it was quickly back at 107-98 with 9:05 left. Oubre then cleaned up missed shots from Wall and Morris for layups to kill their momentum.

--Wall's determination to push the ball produced a 27-4 edge in fast-break points. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: LeBron James throws glasses off court]

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Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Thursday’s 119-113 victory over the 76ers was by far the best victory the Wizards have had this season.

Davis Bertans was hot shooting 7-for-10 from three. He even set a career high of 25 points in 27 minutes.  

Miami, on the hand struggled Wednesday night and fell short to Boston 112-93. 

Who will get the victory Friday ngiht? Tune in to find out. 

WIZARDS at HEAT HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards at Heat, Game 21

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

When: Friday, December 6, at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards at Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at HEAT TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

7:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Heat (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

11:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS at HEAT INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), C.J. Miles (OUT, Wrist), Thomas Bryant (OUT, foot), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, Calf)

Heat: Justise Winslow (OUT, Back), Goran Dragic (OUT, Groin), KZ Okpala (OUT, Achilles), Udonis Haslem (OUT, Illness)

WIZARDS at HEAT PLAYERS TO WATCH

Davis Bertans, PF, (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 app, ): Bertans went off in the first half against the 76ers shooting 6-for-6 from deep to get 22 points going into halftime. Bertans finished Thursday nights game with a season high of 25 points, one rebound, one steal and seven 3 pointers within 37 minutes.

Ish Smith, G, Wizards (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg): With IT out Ish Smith stepped up to the plate dishing out a season high of eight assists with 19 points and one rebound in 34 minutes in Thursday nights win over the 76ers. Smith is averaging

Jimmy Butler, G, Wizards (20.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 6.5 apg): Jimmy Butler was on fire in Miami’s 112-93 loss to Celtics on Wednesday. Butler made 12-of-18 from the field and set a season high of 37 points.

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Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.

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