Key Legislature: Wizards 113 vs Cavaliers 99 — Cleveland Quicken Loan Sharked in DC | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 113 vs Cavaliers 99 — Cleveland Quicken Loan Sharked in DC

Updated: February 29, 2016

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Cavs at Wizards , Regular Season Game 58, Feb. 28, 2016, by Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis). 


[via Monumental Network]

D.C. sports faithful were served up a Sunday matinee treat with the Washington Wizards smashing the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-99. LeBron James got “rest” from the Cavaliers (which in 2016 means he didn’t play), so pre-game it appeared that the Cavs offered a golden opportunity to pick up a victory. But we have witnessed this season that the Wizards don’t always succeed against the shorthanded: recent losses to Chicago and Miami are examples of this frustrating dilemma. Even without their superstar, the risk of another embarrassing defeat for Washington was there. Additionally, the early afternoon tip-off has been a tough adjustment for Washington over the years.

However, the Cavs were the team that appeared sluggish and hungover from their close loss in Toronto on Friday night. Or perhaps they fell victim to D.C. nightlife. Regardless, the Wizards were the aggressors from the jump, forcing their will and producing one of the most offensively efficient performances of the season. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love got their points, sure, but Washington limited random player from going off. (Those Doug McDermott dunks still burn.)

When the Wizards and Cavaliers face off, the LeBron factor is always there but the marquee positional match-up is between the point guards, Irving and Wall. They battled each other throughout, and both provided their own sick highlight plays. The difference, though, is that Irving’s defense on Wall didn’t pass even the most generous eye test. Obviously, teams try to limit Wall’s run outs and take their chances in stopping him in the half court. Irving could do neither, as Wall either got to the rim with little resistance or kicked it out to open shooters after sucking in the entire Cavs defense on drives. The Cavs eventually switched Irving off Wall but his teammates didn’t fare much better. By then, the Wizards had built a big enough lead to allow Randy Wittman to rest Wall (who is the only starter to play in every game this season) for the rest of the action. Wall sat out the fourth quarter, cheerleading from the bench as his teammates closed the game.

Wall finished with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting, with 13 assists, 3 turnovers, 7 rebounds, and a plus-23 plus/minus in 29 minutes. Irving had 28 points on 20 shots, 6 assists, 4 turnovers, 1 rebound, and finished minus-22 in 32 minutes. The fix is probably already in for Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski to take former Duke student Irving over Wall again in this summer’s Olympics. But that may be a mistake. Irving is an offensive talent but Wall is clearly a superior overall player. Furthermore, Irving’s previous 3-point advantage is no longer in play this season. Wall outperforms Irving on 3-point percentage: Irving is shooting 30.7 percent compared to Wall’s 34.4 percent on 3s. Team USA will have enough shooting (Curry) and scoring (Durant, Westbrook, Davis, James) so Wall’s strengths of on ball defense and passing would be more beneficial than Irving’s crafty, aggressive, but one-dimensional game.

Washington held a nine-point lead at halftime, which could have been more if they had shot better from long range. In the first half, Washington went 4-for-14 (29%) on 3-pointers. The most significant reason Washington failed in the Windy City last Wednesday was that the Bulls scored on seven straight possessions in the third quarter. That broke open a close game and the Wizards never fully recovered. Against the Cavaliers, however, Otto Porter began the second half by scorching the net with three straight made 3-pointers. Later, after three consecutive easy shots at the rim, the Wiz had built a 19-point lead, prompting Cavs Coach Ty Lue to take out four of his starters in a massive substitution at the seven-minute mark of third quarter. The Cavs were officially washed. Washington finished the third quarter shooting 6-for-9 on 3-pointers and outscoring Cleveland 33-16. Porter poured in 15 points in the third.

The offensive assault continued in the fourth quarter and the Wiz led by as many as 30. An inconsequential closing run by the Cavs in garbage time (18-2) made the score appear closer than reality.

One striking aspect of the game was to finally see the strength of Washington’s new roster. There’s depth—two players deep!—at every position. The rotation will have to be shortened somewhat but it is positive development that there is actually a resemblance of one. Coach Randy Wittman has now started Morris, who displayed flashes of the envisioned difference-making ability, in the second half of three straight games. Temple’s minutes were cut drastically in Philadelphia. Beal is still coming off the bench due to his minutes restriction and he admitted after the game that he doesn’t know when that will end. There are many moving parts for the coaching staff to navigate, but they finally have a plenitude of legitimate options. Wall’s “No more excuses” motto should apply to everyone in involved with this organization.

Washington has now won five straight games at the Verizon Center and are 5-2 since the All-Star break.


J.R. Smith:

“We can’t play basketball like this going down the stretch. There’s 24, 25 games left in the year and you talk about contending, being a championship contender and get blown out by a team. … After losing a game to the No. 2 team in the East then you come out and get thrashed and make it look good at the end. We can’t do that. If we’re serious about who we’re supposed to be, then we can’t do this….If you lose a game like the other night to a team like Toronto and come out here and play the way we did and you had a lack of energy, maybe we shouldn’t be in this position,” Smith said. “I don’t know. It’s tough. If we’re going to play with a lack of energy after losing a game on the road and come out and play the way we did today, then we shouldn’t be who we are and be in these uniforms.”


“It definitely felt good. Just knocked down shots. You know defense kind of got us started though. We were able to get stops and rebounds and push on the break. I know John got a couple easy ones and he was just able to find everybody.”


“I think we just came out focused. Like I said before, we were going to come out with a lot of intensity whether LeBron played or not. It’s just a big game against a tough team and even with LeBron not being there, it’s a team you can see how you test against. We know they’re going to remember this game and we’ll be prepared Friday when we play them.”





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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.