CLEVELAND – The Wizards have several reasons to be salty as they play the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in five days. In their last meeting, the Wizards blew a 15-point lead, allowed all-star Kyrie Irving to match his career-high with 41 points and watched Jarrett Jack take score what they felt was a stat-padding layup late in a 103-96 overtime loss.
Nene shouted at Jack after the layup and Beal later confronted him before official Olandis Poole separated them. So after snapping a four-game skid against Minnesota on Tuesday night, the Wizards won’t have to search hard for motivation on the second end of back-to-back games at Quicken Loans Arena.
“We definitely owe them,” Beal said. “We know what they’re doing. We know what they’re capable of doing now. It’s just up to us to go out and compete and try to get a win on the road. It’s not anything new. We’ve played them twice, once in the preseason, in the regular season. Now it’s up to us to go out and play a lot harder and finish out games.”
The Wizards jumped on the Cavaliers early, taking a 45-30 lead in the second quarter before Irving got loose. Irving didn’t convert a field goal when matched up against Garrett Temple and started to heat up once Temple left the game. He made three three-pointers in the final 90 seconds of the first half to get some confidence and never looked back as he scored 18 points in the final 18 minutes of regulation and overtime.
“Cleveland came in here and took one from us in overtime. We need to get one on the road. We know it’s going to be a tough game for us in the paint, and obviously the way Kyrie shot against us here, we got to keep him in check. It’s a game that’s very winnable for us,” Temple said. “I think our schemes were right. We just have to execute them better. We got the ball out his hands a lot in the beginning of the shot clock but we have to stay consistent with it.”
Irving dominated his one-on-one battle with John Wall, who shot just 3 of 13 and scored a season-low nine points in the loss. He was matched up against Irving at times, but the Wizards used several different players on him down the stretch.
“We just got to do a better job of playing team defense. Kyrie didn’t score much in the first quarter but he got hot in the second quarter. He built on to that going into the third and fourth,” Wall said. “We didn’t do a great job, or me, personally, going one-on-one.”
The Wizards (3-7) are just 1-5 on the road this season, but their previous victory against Philadelphia came after a loss to the 76ers five days before. After figuring out a way to close against Minnesota, the Wizards are feeling more confident in their battle with Cleveland.
“That’s what this league is about. You hear people say, you have to have fun, but to have fun, you need to win,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “Getting that win was big for us coming in here. It’s a mindset of believing, having faith in one another, having trust in one another. It’s a mindset of here it is, it’s in our grasp, let’s grab ahold of it and see if we can build on it. Now we have to back it up with another strong performance. You can’t be satisfied with one win.”
Al Harrington (right knee) and Trevor Ariza (right hamstring) are both out.
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WJFK-106.7, WFED-1500). Here’s some pregame/in-game reading: