Cavaliers 105, Wizards 74
-- The afternoon started with Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison missing a 14-foot jump shot, which was followed by center Brendan Haywood missing a 10-foot jumper, which was followed by a series of missed layups by forward Michael Ruffin, point guard Gilbert Arenas, Haywood and Arenas again. The Wizards were already down 10 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers before Haywood finally put them on the scoreboard, after more than four minutes of awful shooting, when he grabbed -- what else? -- a missed layup by guard Larry Hughes and dunked the ball.
Jamison, one of the Wizards' three captains, had noticed his team's tendency to have slow starts in its first five games this season and he made a plea before it faced the Cavaliers. "I told the guys, 'Let's win a first quarter,' " Jamison said. Instead, the Wizards went out and played their worst first quarter of basketball this season, creating a 17-point deficit too large to overcome during a 105-74 loss at Gund Arena on Saturday.
"We got beat down," Arenas said after scoring a team-high 25 points.
The Wizards (3-3) missed their first eight shots and finished 5 of 25 (20 percent) in the period, while establishing a season low for points scored in a quarter (11). And it didn't get much better for the Wizards, who suffered their most lopsided loss of the season. The Cavaliers held the Wizards to a season-low 33.3 percent shooting, more than doubled the Wizards in assists (31-15) and had 30 more rebounds (62-32).
"We got outrebounded by 30," said Jamison, who led the Wizards with nine rebounds but matched his season low with 14 points. "The way we shot the ball, we probably should've got outrebounded by more than that."
The Wizards missed 58 of 87 shots but grabbed just nine offensive rebounds. Cavaliers power forward Drew Gooden grabbed 15 rebounds (10 defensive) and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas had eight against an undersized team that is still waiting for the return of forwards Kwame Brown (surgery on right foot) and Etan Thomas (abdominal strain). "We're not going to make any excuses about not having our big guys. They've been out all year long," Haywood said after blocking a season-high seven shots. "We can't even look at it like that."
Cavaliers second-year swingman LeBron James entered the game leading the league in minutes per game at 46.2, but the 19-year-old phenom finally got a chance to rest after scoring 24 points with nine rebounds in just 38 minutes.
James spent the final 6 minutes 15 seconds on the bench, cheering on his teammates, after he dazzled his home crowd with an assortment of rim-rocking dunks and acrobatic antics. He added to Wizards' first-quarter misery when he chased down Hughes to slap a layup against the glass, then sprinted back down the floor to catch a pass from teammate Ira Newble and finish with a pretty finger roll. "He'll continue to get better," Hughes said of James.
The loss was eerily similar to one last season, when the Wizards came to Cleveland with a 3-2 record and got bludgeoned, 111-98, setting off a horrendous run in which they lost 19 of 23.
This time, however, Arenas didn't throw the ball into stands out of frustration. He just came out more determined after the Wizards fell behind 56-35 at the start of the third quarter. Arenas scored 10 points during a 19-4 run that cut the Cavaliers' lead to six points with 6:20 left in the third period. But the Wizards didn't get any closer, losing intensity and breath with the uphill climb.
"Gilbert did a great job offensively," Coach Eddie Jordan said. "He took it upon himself. He carried us. But we missed shots again. You came back from , it can take a lot out of you."
The Wizards have trailed after the first quarter of every game this season, having been outscored 153-106 (roughly 26-18 per game). Unlike their previous games, the Wizards couldn't find a magic switch at halftime, scoring 39 points in the second half after averaging 56.8 second-half points this season. Jordan couldn't explain the lackluster starts. "We're ready to play," he said. "Guys are energetic, enthusiastic. I really don't know what it is."
Said Jamison: "We're professionals. We just got to come out and do a better job of matching the opponents' intensity. I don't want to dwell on it too much but we need to put a full game together. We don't want to lose the confidence we have as a team by always trying to fight back, fight back."