Johnson: The Wizards rock in Cleveland

Johnson: The Wizards rock in Cleveland
February 14, 2011, 1:27 am
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Sunday, February 13, 2011, 8:32 p.m.


By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comCleveland---The Wizards have played a few post-season games in this city and it is with the mentality of a playoff game head coach Flip Saunders wanted his team to approach their 26th road game of the season. The message was received and the mission accomplished as the Wizards defeated the Cavaliers 115-100.Coming off arguably their most disappointing effort of the season in Saturdays 118-94 loss to the Spurs at home, the Wizards displayed the sense of urgency needed to not only get their first road win of the season after, but also their first regular season win in Cleveland in almost five years.The Wizards seized the game like a team desperate to finish a playoff series. Nick Young scored 16 of his game-high 31 points in the first quarter, while John Wall set the tone by dishing out 7 assists in his first ten minutes on the floor. Wall finished with 14 assists and 19 points.We closed it out said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders We came out very focused early and did a lot of things and played very well. I thought John (Wall), for his lack of emotion against the Spurs (last night), was more focused and very emotional. He really put a lot of pressure on them (Cavs) as far as defensively.Former Wizards star Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 21 points and J.J. Hickson had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but the Cavaliers could not build on their impressive victory over the LA Clippers on Friday that had ended their run of 26 consecutive losses.After grabbing 12 points off 7 Cavaliers turnovers in the first quarter, the Wizards were able to build a comfortable 68-46 half-time lead. Andray Blatche was also part of the first-half story when he scored 11 of his 17 points on 5 of 5 shooting from the field.With a sustained commitment to ball movement over quick shots, the Wizards offense flowed with 31 assists. Kirk Hinirch added 17 points and the game also marked the return of Josh Howard to the lineup. Out since January 5th with a sore left knee, Howard started in place of Rashard Lewis, who missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee.He (Howard) settled us down, Saunders noted. He had a couple of big shots, grabbed some key rebounds, and its not a coincidence that our overall intensity and intelligence improved with him on the floor. He has court savvy.Howard had 13 of his 16 points in the second half when the Cavaliers tried to make a serious run at the Wizards. Over the games final two quarters the Cavaliers shot 8 of 11 from three-point distance but could only get to within 11 points at 102-91 with 7:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.In the fourth quarter, we had a big lead and they (Cavs) kept fighting back, Wall noted. "They didnt give up and they started making threes and we turned the ball over a couple of times and they made shots. When it got down to 10 with 5:00 to go, we kept thinking in our heads, stay positive. We couldnt get negative and couldnt let the same thing happen that happened before.Even though Cavaliers scored 100 points, which allowed Cleveland fans to get free Chalupas, the Wizards can also point to their defense as a reason for finally earning success on the road.The Wizards had 9 steals and 12 blocked shots. Yes JaVale McGee had two of the Wizards blocks, but Hinrich and Wall so got involved with two blocks each.We just have to move forward now, said Saunders who enjoyed the teams first road win in his hometown and with his father in attendance. Now lets just see if we can better as a team over the final 28 games."