Cavaliers coach Mike Brown could feel something different in the second quarter of Friday night's 115-1113 victory over the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. His struggling team, so disconnected for most of Wednesday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, actually was playing some defense. OK, so after the Wizards shot 65.4 percent in the first quarter, even one stop would qualify as some defense. But one was better than none. "I kept telling them the first team that can get more consecutive stops in a row is going to win,'' Brown said as the Cavs snapped their six-game losing streak to improve to 17-33. They are 6-20 on the road, and two of those victories have come at the Verizon Center. After a week of controversy, including horrible games, reports about internal turmoil and Thursday's firing of general manager Chris Grant, it was as if the Cavs finally woke up to the fact that something had to change. “The energy was different,'' said Dion Waiters, who led the Cavs with 24 points. "These guys knew what was at stake, after going through a situation like we went through. We need we had to come out here and play hard. We were facing adversity. It wasn’t the first time for us. At the end of the day, we came out here and played hard and got a big win.” Kyrie Irving, who was ill and missed the morning shootaround, added 23 points and 12 assists. With Luol Deng ill and unavailable, C.J. Miles started in his place and finished with 18 points, while little-used Alonzo Gee came off the bench to contribute 11 points and seven rebounds, earning special praise from Brown for the energy he brought on both ends of the court. Irving gave Cavs fans a scare when he walked to the locker room late in the third quarter after taking off his shoe and having the trainer looking at his foot on the bench only to have the Cavs announce he was just trying to stretch out his ankle. Indeed, he returned in the fourth quarter to resume his duel with fellow All-Star John Wall, who finished with 32 points as Washington slipped to 24-25. Irving got a lot of calls from the referees in the matchup, which didn't sit well with the Wizards fans who booed loudly. Or perhaps they were booing the fact that the Cavs led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter. But a 3-pointer by Martell Webster -- his sixth -- cut that lead to 115-113 with 2.9 seconds left. Jarrett Jack missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds left, but as the Wizards tried a baseball pass downcourt, the ball was deflected out of bounds with .2 seconds left. The Wizards inbounded to Nene but his last-second backwards shot was not in time and nowhere close. Wizards coach Randy Wittman was not impressed by his team's rally. "We wait until the last four minutes to fly around and decide to play defense -- last four minutes of the game,'' said the former Cavs coach, sounding an awful lot like the current Cavs coach on many nights. "Everybody will say, 'You gave a great effort coming down the stretch.' No, we didn’t. For 44 minutes we didn’t give an effort. "We’re not willing to pay the price to be a good team.'' On Friday night at least, the Cavs seemed to be willing to pay that price -- at least for the final three quarters.
Cavaliers snap six-game losing streak with 115-113 victory over Wizards
Cleveland Plain Dealer | Feb 8