The Washington Wizards didn’t have to search for motivation Wednesday night in their rematch with Cleveland, only five days after they blew a 15-point lead and made a series of miscues in regulation before losing to the Cavaliers in overtime. “We definitely owe them,” Bradley Beal said before the game. Their matchup Saturday ended with Cavaliers backup Jarrett Jack making a layup after the Wizards had conceded the game. An angry Nene shouted. and Beal felt the need to address the issue personally with Jack, a conversation that led to others separating the players. In the locker room after, a dejected John Wall spoke in mumbled tones after being upstaged at by fellow former No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving. With revenge on their minds, the Wizards built a 27-point lead behind Wall’s playmaking, Beal’s shooting and Nene’s inside scoring, then held on for a harder-than-necessary 98-91 victory. Beal scored team-high 26 points – his third straight game with at least 25 — but he was at the center of the fourth-quarter meltdown as he accounted for a handful of turnovers and missed shots as the Cavaliers focused their defense on Wall and Nene. Wall had 15 points and nine assists, playing with tenacity on both ends and scoring in emphatic fashion through the first three quarters. Early in the game, Wall stole a lazy pass by Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum, sprinted down the floor and threw down a thunderous dunk. He then made Cavaliers fans start booing in the third quarter, when he dribbled up the floor and used a Marcin Gortat screen to get to the basket for another dunk that put the Wizards ahead 73-46. Then, suddenly, the momentum came to screeching halt. The offense stalled, the defense became lackadaisical and a game that seemed well under control grew tight — mainly due to Irving. In their previous meeting, Irving matched his career-high with 41 points and was a one-man wrecking crew in overtime, scoring nine points to match Wall’s total for the game. When asked if would be fired up when they met again, Wall shook his head and said, “I was terrible. Never again.” Wall held Irving to just 10 points through the first three quarters, but Irving came alive with a one-man run in the fourth quarter to lead his team on an improbable, 23-6 run that brought his team within 86-82. The Wizards (4-7) worked the ball into Nene, who drew a foul and made both free throws. Irving answered with a driving basket over Wall, then Beal made a huge pull-up jumper. Nene was a stabilizing force as he matched his season high with 24 points and added eight rebounds and six assists. Martell Webster also had 15 points as he continues to fill in for Trevor Ariza, who missed his third straight game with a strained right hamstring.
Wizards escape Cleveland with a 98-91 win
Washington Post | Nov 21