Instant analysis: Wizards 98, Cavaliers 91

Instant analysis: Wizards 98, Cavaliers 91
November 20, 2013, 9:15 pm
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Highlights: Wizards 98, Cavaliers 91

(Eric Mull-USA TODAY Sports)

John Wall took the heat after the first meeting with the Cleveland Cavaliers five days ago, when Kyrie Irving -- the 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick -- tied a career-high with 41 points. Wall, the top pick the year before, just had nine.

This time, Wall got the upper hand although Irving made it interesting in the end. Wall finished 15 points, nine assists and four steals as the Wizards (4-7) held off a late charge. Wall has 37 assists in his last three games. He had 12 in the first meeting with Cleveland and tied a career-high with 16 in Tuesday's win vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Cleveland (4-8) trailed by as many as 27 points, but a 19-5 run cut the deficit to 80-67 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. 

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The Cavs starters combined for nine points in the first half. Irving, who got hot in the fourth quarter again, finished with a game-high 28 points on 9-for-14 shooting. The other four starters, C.J. Miles, Tristan Thompson, Earl Clark and Andrew Bynum produced just seven points. The bench, led by Jarrett Jack and Anderson Varejao with 14 points each, contributed 58 points. 

Bradley Beal made his first six three-point shots and finished with a team-high 26 points on 9-for-20 shooting, seven rebounds and eight assists. 

Turning point: After Irving's fading jump shot over Nene, the Wizards went on an 11-2 run in the first quarter to blow open a game that wasn't competitive for three quarters. Beal made all three of his three-point shots. The Wizards led 56-38 by halftime.

Best in show: Nene. He had 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists. The Wizards were outscored 32-18 in the final quarter, but in the clutch they ran their offense through their power forward -- not their perimeter players. 

Unraveled: Beal was strong in the first three quarters, but he made a series of bad plays in the fourth quarter that allowed Cleveland to creep back into it. Beal held the ball too long and then was forced into an airball at 3:59 with an 86-75 lead. He then couldn't get free of Matthew Dellavedova and was called for a 24-second violation. Then Beal was called for a blocking foul on Irving as he made the layup and the foul shot to get the deficit down to 86-82. Beal was credited with six turnovers. 

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Tapped out: Jan Vesely did it again. Yes, Vesely. He was an active force on the boards, particularly on the offense end as his tap outs of missed shots led to second-chance opportunities. The Wizards led in that category 16-9. In 22 minutes, Vesely finished with four points on 2-for-3 shooting, eight rebounds -- four offensive -- and two blocks.

Key stats: After foul shooting was an Achilles heel late in some earlier losses, the Wizards have made 29 of 29 in the last two games. They made all 14 attempts in Cleveland as Nene, Beal, Marcin Gortat and Wall made their freebies in the fourth quarter to smother the late rally. ... The Wizards had 31 assists on 38 field goals. 

DNP: Kevin Seraphin didn't make an appearance for the second time in a row this season. Rookie Glen Rice didn't play, either. Al Harrington (right knee) and Trevor Ariza (right hamstring) were inactive.

From the locker room: "He's a good player. He got going again. He made some one-legged runners in the lane over our bigs. A lot of the times he got into that attack mode and made shots. Overall, for most of the night, we did a pretty decent job defensively. We gave up 32 in the fourth there. I like better what I saw defensively the first three quarters." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman on defending Irving

"It was rocky. You can expect any game in the NBA game to be like that. The game is never over. It's a 48-minute game. We played well for 40 minutes. The whole fourth quarter they did well. Their second and third units gave them a lot of energy. We kind of went way from what was working a little bit. I was glad we were able to stick it out and get a win." -- Beal 

Up next: The Wizards travel to Toronto, where they'll face the Raptors on Friday (CSN+, 7 p.m. ET). It'll be their third game in four days.