The Washington Wizards home win streak of 17 came to a stop after an overtime 140-135 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Slow Start for a Big Finish.
The Wizards knew this was their biggest game during their current winning streak. The Cavaliers also knew this was a big game for them since their 7-8 record in January. Both teams came out fast. Cleveland is the top seed in the East and the defending champs, but that did not intimidate the Wizards. They came out aggressive and outscored the champs 32-26, despite Markieff Morris getting in foul trouble.
The second quarter was no different. With Wall on the bench and LeBron James starting off the second, Cleveland cut Washington’s lead down to two. With help from Jason Smith and Bradley Beal, the Wizards maintained a lead until Wall checked back in. When both teams’ starters came back in, the game continued to get more competitive. Although the Cavaliers fought back, the Wizards held on to a three-point lead going into halftime.
Defending Their Home
Washington carried their momentum into the second half. They got the biggest lead of nine points in the middle of the third quarter. However, this was no ordinary team they were playing. After the Wizards increased the lead, Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 68. The Cavs did not stop them as they took over the third quarter. They outscored the home team 32-25 to take a four-point lead going into the final period.
After a disappointing quarter, the Wizards came out on an 8-1 run to regain a three-point lead. Cleveland came right back with a 7-0 run. This game had all the makings to come down to the wire and that’s exactly what happened. This game went back and forth down to the last buzzer. Every time Wall made a clutch shot, James was right there to match him. With the game tied at 107, Beal found Otto Porter, Jr. for a corner three with three minutes left. With the crowd behind them and the momentum changing hands, the Wizards were set to take over. That would be the case if the Cavs did not have James.
Game of the Year Candidate?
James hit his third straight three-pointer to tie the game at 110. After a Washington turnover, James then found Kyle Korver for a three-pointer to give them an 113-110 lead. Marcin Gortat hit a couple of free throws, James found Kevin Love for another Cavalier’s three-pointer, extended their lead to four points with 1:31 left in the game. Beal showed his clutch gene with a late three-pointer with 43 seconds to tie the game at 116.
With 25 seconds left, Tristan Thompson was fouled. He made one of two free throws to give them an 117-116 lead with 24.1 seconds left. This opened up the door for the Wizards to seal the deal. Wall drove to the basket and missed a layup. However, Morris was there to clean it up and put Washington up one point with 12 seconds.
The Cavs put the ball in James’ hands. He brought the ball all the way down and did a “traveling euro” to get wide open at the basket, but missed a practice layup. Wall then knocked down two free throws to give the Wizards a three-point with three seconds. Love throws a Tom Brady inbound pass to James. He catches the ball and hits an unbelievable fade-away three to tie the game at 120 with 0.3 seconds left. This already amazing game is going into overtime.
Who Closes Out the Game??
The Wizards could not have started off the overtime period any better. Not only did they take a four-point lead early, but James fouled out 4:13 left in the game. Korver hit another clutch three to tie the game at 127 with 2:14 left. The Cavs continue on a 7-0 run to take a 129-127 lead.
It was looking like fatigue was kicking in until all-star Wall exploded to the basket for an and-one basket, giving Washington a one-point lead. Oubre and Morris fouled out and they had to go down the bench to end the game.
Irving Seals the Deal
Beal showed up clutch again with a three-pointer to give the Wizs a 133-131 lead. Irving came back with a clutch basket to tie the game at 133. He then came back again with another clutch three, giving them a 136-133 lead with 35 seconds left. Wall came back with an assist to Gortat to cut the lead down to one.
The Cavs put the ball in Irving’s hands. He drove the lane, missed a layup but Thompson back-tapped the ball back to him, forcing the Wizards to foul. Irving knocked down both free throws, extending the lead to 138-135. Beal missed a three-pointer to tie the game and Love grabbed the rebound. Love knocked down a pair of free throws to end the game.
Stats for You….Stats for Everybody!!!!
Multiple players filled the stat sheet in this game. For the Cavs, James led them with a career high 17 assists and added 32 points and seven rebounds. Love had 39 points and 12 rebounds, while Irving added 23 points (9 in overtime.) Thompson had 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Beal had a game-high 41 points with eight assists and five rebounds. His backcourt mate had 22 points and 12 assists. Porter had 25 and Morris and Gortat combined for 31 points 14 rebounds. Oubre led the bench with 11 points, seven rebounds, and four steals.
Looking Forward with Pride
Although the Wizards lost, they should hold their heads high. They went into an overtime battle with the defending champs that could have gone either way. They can not let this get them down and have to look forward to the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday in New York.
The Nets are the worst team in the league with a 9-42 record. Washington can not come in this game with their heads down. The Nets could take advantage and come out with a major upset. The Wizards need to come out with a chip on their shoulders from this Cavs game and take it out on the Nets. There is no game plan for this team except don’t take them for granted due to their record. They should double team Brook Lopez and force the other players on the floor to beat them.