The streak is over, the season-high four consecutive losses for the Wizards and the perfect home record for the Cleveland Cavaliers as John Wall made good on his promise to play better Tuesday.
The result: A 97-85 victory as Wall had a season-high 35 points, 21 coming in the first half, 10 assists, five steals and four rebounds. It was his first double-digit assist game in seven tries. Cleveland is 9-1 at Quicken Loans Arena.
"This is one game I played well and you see how different our team is," Wall told CSNmidatlantic's Chris Miller after the game.
LeBron James was held to 24 points on 8 of 20 shooting and had nine of Cleveland's 19 turnovers. Kevin Love only had eight points on 2-for-10 shooting and Timofey Mozgov was held scoreless in the middle.
The Wizards (7-8) jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game and never trailed. Their largest lead in the first half came after a three-pointer from Garrett Temple put the score at 50-38. It grew to as many as 22 on five consecutive points by Jared Dudley at 69-47.
Between the end of the second quarter and start of the third, the Wizards went on a 25-7 run to neutralize the Cavs, who shot just 28 of 83 for 33.7%.
Bradley Beal had 18 points, Marcin Gortat had 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, Dudley 12 points and Temple seven.
- Wall lived in the paint as he used his speed to blow by Matthew Dellavedova and back him down into the mid-post to create passing angles. Wall also had four steals by halftime, an indication how he was engaged defensively to spark his offense. The pace stayed in the game and even though he took 24 shots -- he went 6 of 25 in an 84-82 loss to the Toronto Raptors over the weekend -- it wasn't at the expense of better shots for teammates. Wall made 14. The Wizards had 44 points in the paint to double up the Cavs.
- Coach Randy Wittman went to a super-small lineup when the Wizards went on a 9-0 second-quarter run of Wall, Beal, Temple, Dudley and Otto Porter with James off the floor. And they did the job despite being dwarfed by Tristan Thompson and Love because of their ability to help and recover and use their active hands to disrupt Cleveland. When James re-entered, Gortat took Dudley's spot. The rotation was tightened to eight, except for Kelly Oubre playing the last 39 seconds of the first half. Said Wittman: "I had lineups there tonight I don't know if I would've dreamed of."
- Gortat had his season-high in blocks (four) after the first quarter. He had a double-double midway through the third quarter. Forget the numbers, he forced James to flip up errant shots at the rim because of his contesting of shots. Love had Dudley posted, and Gortat's help forced him to miss a chip shot. With a chance to cut the lead to less than 10, twice, James missed on Gortat's contests late in the fourth. James had his eighth turnover early in the fourth when Gortat helped Temple with a double-team. The only area of Gortat's game that was worth criticizing is constantly being called for illegal screens. They landed him in foul trouble though it ended up not mattering.
- Dudley started for the second game in a row. His stats are hardly eye-popping. He only had seven and four in the loss to Toronto, but if you think this inspired play on the defensive end is by accident, think again. It's not just his communication and rotation that assists his teammates in playing better defense. Dudley's three-pointer midway through the third quarter pushed the lead to 67-47. Then he looked like Andre Miller when he put the ball on the floor, made a ball fake to a shooter in the corner which got the defender to bite and Dudley an easy layup. When the Wizards were in a drought in the middle of the fourth, Dudley's mid-range shot pushed the score to 89-73. On both jumpers, he was uncovered and this is why he's going to be a better option than Kris Humphries, who needs more time to pull the trigger, in most situations. Humphries was 0-for-3 in nine minutes.
- Beal only shot 6 of 19, including 1 of 10 on threes, so imagine how big of a blowout this would've been had he been. But Beal didn't lose his aggressive streak, getting to the foul line seven times and making five of them. That was one fewer attempt than James. Beal also had six assists, nine rebounds and a steal. As long as Beal plays this way and stays engaged, good things will eventually happen. It just was Wall's night on the offensive end.
- When the Cavs tried to make their run late, the Wizards tightened up. They didn't close well even though they won by double digits. Turnovers were more plentiful (Dudley stepped on the sideline on the catch) and their shots were forced, including a contested jumper taken by Wall. Six of the Wizards' 13 giveaways came in the fourth. Being that this was the first game of a back-to-back, this is where closing strong allows Wittman to empty his bench to rest the starters for the L.A. Lakers on Wednesday at Verizon Center. Instead, Beal, Wall and Porter played 40-plus minutes.
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