The Wizards and Cavs battled on Friday night in the nation’s capital, but LeBron James’ 57 points led Cleveland to victory, 130-122. Bradley Beal scored 36 points and the Wizards’ bench contributed 41 points, but James was simply too much to contain. John Wall was hit hard throughout the game and sprained his left shoulder in the second half, but played the entire game.
Cleveland got off to a scorching start, scoring 42 points on 77.3% shooting in the first quarter. The Wizards were up to the task early, however, scoring 36 points of their own on 66.7% shooting. James and Derrick Rose made 12-of-14 shots to lead the Cavs, while Marcin Gortat scored 11 points and John Wall had seven of his 15 assists for the Wizards.
Washington’s bench came in and slowed the game down after a fast-paced first quarter. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mike Scott headed the second unit while Beal scored 10 of his 36 points in the second quarter. Oubre ended up scoring a career-high 21 points with a career-high five 3-pointers, while Scott scored in double digits off the bench for the fourth straight game. The Wizards missed all seven 3-point attempts in the quarter, but still managed to keep the game within eight points at the half.
The Wizards trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but put a run together to bring the game back within single digits. Beal scored another 11 points in the quarter and the Cavs not named LeBron James only made 5-of-16 field goals. Washington would bring the game within striking distance with 12 minutes to go, trailing by 11.
After a back-and-forth start to the fourth quarter, the Wizards brought the game within eight points after Otto Porter Jr., who returned after missing one game due to illness, nailed a 27-foot triple with 6:58 remaining. With 3:34 to go, the Wizards trailed by seven and got their fourth straight stop. But on the way down the court, Oubre was called for a charge and the Cavs never let up from there.
Stopping James was a near impossible task all night, as the future Hall of Famer made tough shot after tough shot. Wall took on the task of guarding him in the fourth when the Wizards went to their extra small lineup (Wall-Beal-Meeks-Oubre-Porter) and defended him well. But, James was “on a different level” as Oubre put it on Friday night. LeBron would finish with 57 points on 23-of-34 shooting, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and two blocks.
Markieff Morris saw his first action of the season after recovering from sports hernia surgery. He played 14-plus minutes and finished with two points, four rebounds, and three assists. Morris was on a 16-minute restriction, and the Wizards clearly missed him down the stretch of the game. Still, having Morris back was a step in the right direction and he should be back in full swing in a week or so.
Beal’s 36 points gave him 76 points in the team’s last two games after his 40-point outing against the Suns on Wednesday. Against Cleveland, he made 12-of-19 shots, including 5-for-11 from beyond the arc, and added four assists. The sixth-year guard is really coming into his own and the Wizards have to be thrilled with the way he’s been playing this week.
Next up, the Wizards head to Toronto for a quick one-game road trip up north on Sunday at 6:00pm in another pivotal Eastern Conference game.