The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-101 on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. Step back: In case anyone was wondering if the Wizards had finally turned a corner, if three straight wins meant they had found their level and flushed the head-scratching, up-and-down inconsistency of last year out of their system, the answer is no. No, they did not.
The Wizards, as they have shown the past year-plus, do not know how to handle prosperity. They will take the biggest step back just when it appears they are finally charging forward.
The Wizards entered Saturday night's game against the Cavs having won six of their last nine, yet they didn't put up much of a fight at all against one of the league's truly terrible teams. Cleveland happened to be playing the second game of a back-to-back, while the Wizards were fresh having not played since Wednesday.
It wasn't just the lopsided score, it was the nature of the game. The Wizards were listless and out of sync. They trailed by as many as 29 points, and during one stretch in the first half, they went 7:59 without a field goal.
Now they are 11-15 on the year with the Pacers and Celtics up next.
2. Wall was off: The Wizards had John Wall back, as the All-Star point guard returned from a one-game absence due to personal reasons. But, for whatever reason, Wall was a shell of himself on this particular night.
Wall was sluggish and stiff, unable to get past his defenders or to top speed on the fastbreak like we are used to seeing. He had one point in 26 minutes on 0-for-5 shooting. It was the lowest scoring game of his career.
Wall has been dealing with some minor injuries this season, including a contusion in his thigh. He has been icing his left foot after recent games.
Perhaps the few days off made it tough for him to get loose. He just wasn't himself in this one.
3. Thompson was a problem: The Wizards had absolutely no answer for Cavs big man Tristan Thompson and especially early. Thompson dominated the paint like Shaquille O'Neal in his prime. Wizards players hopelessly bounced off of him as he muscled his way to offensive rebounds and easy looks at the rim.
By halftime, Thompson had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Those 19 points tied his most for a full game since Nov. 10. He ended up with 23 points, a season-high, 19 rebounds and two blocks.
Thompson must have seen the Wizards' personnel as a match-up problem he could take advantage of. They are a bad rebounding team and neither Thomas Bryant nor their small-ball fives could equal his size and strength.
4. Oubre didn't have it: One of the Wizards' best offensive players in recent games was Kelly Oubre Jr., but his hot streak came to a screeching halt on Saturday.
Oubre chucked errant shot after errant shot to the tune of 13 points on 4-for-12 from the field and 0-for-3 from three. He's a streaky shooter and when he goes cold, he can go very cold.
What Oubre needs to learn is how to be effective offensively when his outside shot isn't going in. Sometimes, he can make up for it by attacking the rim and running the floor. That wasn't the case in this one.
5. Sexton killed them: The Wizards did a solid job against Cavs rookie Collin Sexton in their first meeting, but in this game he showed all of the talent that made him the eighth overall pick.
Sexton was lights-out shooting the ball and played well on both ends of the floor. He had a career-high 29 points with six assists and two steals. He shot 56.5 percent overall and 42.9 percent from three.
Sexton got by Wizards defenders too easily. Wall was a major culprit, but they collectively could not stay in front of him. And once he got penetration, it created opportunities for everyone else.
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