Washington Wizards point guard John Wall scored 27 points, dished 14 assists, grabbed 7 rebounds and even blocked a shot, but it wasn't enough as he received no help from the bench and the Wizards fell 95-90 on the road to a Cleveland Cavaliers team playing without All Star guard Kyrie Irving. The loss drops the Wiz to 20-42 and completes a season sweep for the Cavs. Wiz guard Bradley Beal missed his fourth straight game with an injured left ankle.
Emeka Okafor chipped in with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Nene contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds and Martell Webster was hot in the first half, finishing with 17 points and 4 rebounds in over 42 minutes of play.
However, the Wizards bench was outscored 29-11 and the team fell apart offensively after a fast start in the first quarter. The Wiz bench hit only 4 of 21 shots from the field and missed 3 of 6 from the stripe. A key loss for the bench was Trevor Ariza, the team's best wing defender and a key contributor on offense and the glass in recent weeks. Ariza hurt his knee in the first half, didn't play the second half and was able to give the team only 2 point and 2 rebounds in less than 12 minutes. It is unknown how serious Ariza's injury is or if he would miss additional time.
The Wiz began well enough, with Wall, Webster and Okafor roaring out of the gate to lead the Wizards to a 13-point lead, 33-20, after 12 minutes.
However, the Wiz offense went into hibernation after that, going 7 minutes without scoring a field goal in the second quarter, allowing the Cavaliers to come all the way back and take a 50-49 lead at halftime.
The Wiz fell further behind after a dismal third quarter in which the Wiz were outscored 26-16 and trailed by 11 going into the fourth quarter. Wall tried to lead the team back in the final 12 minutes, getting the Wiz to within five points, but the Wizards struggled to get key defensive rebounds and make free throws down the stretch.
The Cavaliers got key contributions from point guard Shaun Livingston, starting in place of Irving, and Alonzo Gee, both ex-Wizards. However, Dion Waiters led the Cavs with 20 points and big man Tristan Thompson scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Washington is now 5-25 on the season and just got swept by yet another lottery-bound team. [See Detroit Pistons.]
It's become clear how dependant the Wizards now are on Bradley Beal's outside shooting and his ball-handling, which takes a lot of pressure off John Wall. Without Beal, the Wiz will struggle to beat anyone -- even a mediocre Cavaliers team playing without its best player.