The weary Washington Wizards arrived in Cleveland at 3:30 AM Thursday morning for their showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Wednesday, the Wizards lost 134-129 in overtime to the Miami Heat, and needed to put the loss behind them.
And the team did just that in a 124-112 win over the Cavaliers. At the 7:15 mark in the first quarter, the Wizards fell behind 18-6 after a Collin Sexton dunk. It looked like a tired Wizards team was going to be on the receiving end of another loss. But Bradley Beal, freshly snubbed out of being a starter for the All-Star game, had other ideas.
In 29 minutes of action, Beal torched the Cavaliers defense, scoring 36 points on 15-22 shooting. He also did damage from 3-point range, shooting 4-8 from behind the arc. Beal also led the charge to get the Wizards back into the game, propelling the team on a 23-6 run to close out the first quarter.
Thomas Bryant stepped up, hitting a big 3-pointer to get the Wizards first quarter run started. Bryant would go on to score five of his nine points in the first, which turned out to be significant.
No Let Up From The Wizards
In the second quarter, the Wizards didn’t let up at all, opening up the period on a 6-0 run. What made the run significant is dating back to the first quarter, they put together a 29-6 run. This resulted in a 35-24 lead after a Davis Bertans three pointer. Bertans had a great second quarter, scoring 14 points on 5-5 shooting. (3-3) from 3-point range and (1-1) from the free throw line.
Not only did the Wizards go into the locker room with a 68-61 lead. They would go on to never trail for the rest of the game. The “bench mob” for the Wizards, led by Ish Smith and Bertans, did their part to make sure of it. Like Bertans, Smith also scored 17 points (6-14) off the bench in 26 minutes of action. The Wizards bench outscored the Cavaliers second unit 59-34.
In the second half, the Wizards put the game on ice, increasing their lead at to 20 points at the 2:45 mark in the third quarter after a Bertans 34 foot three pointer that opened the game up.
In the fourth quarter, it was all about just hanging onto the lead despite fatigue kicking in. The Wizards went into the fourth quarter with a 100-86 lead. The Cavaliers, however, would cut the lead to 101-92 with 9:52 left in the period.
The Wizards came out of the timeout and went on a 9-0 after a Bryant layup, which put the lead at 15. And from that point on, Washington would cruise, resulting in a 124-112 victory on the road in Cleveland.
This great performance from Beal, especially when the Wizards needed it, isn’t a surprise. He entered Thursday averaging 28.5 points and 4.4 assists per game in his last five games since returning from injury January 12th.
Beal was snubbed out of being an All-Star starter, but this didn’t happen because of the players around the league. It’s because the fan vote wasn’t too kind to him.
As for the Wizards, they’re now 15-29 on the season and are 3 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Nets (18-25) for the eighth seed in the east. The four game road trip will continue on Sunday when the team travels to Atlanta to face the Hawks.