In beating two of the best teams in the Western Conference this week, the Wizards took two steps forward. In losing to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, coming in with a six-game losing streak on Friday at Verizon Center, they took three steps back.
The Wizards (24-25) allowed 67 first-half points, a season high, and it came against one of the NBA's worst offenses as they fell below .500. Kyrie Irving had a double-double by halftime for Cleveland (17-33) to finish with 23 points and 12 assists, but it was the supporting cast that did the job for a team that had its GM Chris Grant fired Thursday for non-performance.
Dion Waiters (24 points, 11-for-18), C.J. Miles (18, 7-for-11), Anthony Bennett (eight, 3-for-4, six rebounds) and Alonzo Gee (11, 4-for-6, seven rebounds). They won for the second time in three meetings with Washington with both coming at Verizon -- and without Luol Deng (illness).
The Wizards had five players score in double figures, led by John Wall with a game-high points on 10-for-19 shooting, 10 assists and five rebonds, but Bradley Beal had a miserable night. He only made 4 of 15 shots for nine points and missed a fast-break layup in the waning minutes that would've cut the deficit to 103-98.
This home loss comes after the Wizards blew what appeared to be easy victories vs. losing teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. They lost both in overtime though upset the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers here.
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Turning point: After Wall hit a layup to trim the deficit to three, the Cavs had an 8-2 spurt that included a three-pointer from Matthew Dellavedova on an offensive rebound. They entered the fourth up 93-85 and never were seriously threatened.
Key stat: The Cavs won the rebounding battle, 45-34.
Bench blitz: Waiters led a 33-point first half for Cleveland's reserves. They ended with 58 points. For the Wizards, Martell Webster (18, 6-for-9 three-pointers) was a spark but they couldn't compare. Kevin Seraphin (seven) and Jan Vesely (one) were the only other players to score. Cleveland's bench accounted for 25 of their rebounds, with Gee and Tyler Zeller combining for 12.
From the locker room: "Lack of desire. We just think sometimes we can just show up. 'Maybe tonight will be an easier night and I don't have to exert as much energy tonight. Let's see if we can get away with that.' Give up 67 points in the first half and you're in a dogfight. ... We wait until the last four minutes to fly around and try and decide to play defense. ... For 44 minutes we didn't give an effort and that's what's disappointing." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman
"We could have played a little tougher instead of lackadaisical. I felt like that's how we played all game and when you give a vulnerable team life, that's what happens. You lose. We didn't do our job. We didn't come out aggressive." -- Wizards SF Trevor Ariza
"It's really upsetting and obviously it's not fun to play in games like that. ... How is it possible you can beat two top teams from the West and then the East is coming in and kicking our ass on our own court? It's not fun. It's not fun at all." -- Wizards C Marcin Gortat
"We just didn't come out and play. We didn't come out with our defensive concepts and come out and play hard. They played harder than us in that first half and even when we were down four (67-63 at halftime), we didn't come out with that same effort. ... I feel like this is the worst loss for us this season because of the way we played the last three games, come back and have a chance to get over .500 and then you just fall right back down." -- Wall
"The energy was different. You guys knew what was at stake, after going through a situation like what we went through. So we knew we had to come out here and play hard, and face adversity, and it was not the first time for us." -- Waiters
Up next: The Wizards likely will practice Saturday and but not shoot around Sunday morning before their next game at Verizon Center vs. the Sacramento Kings later that day (CSN, 6 p.m. ET).