Cavaliers 98, Wizards 89
It’s hard to know what’s worse: getting trounced by 38 points by the playoff bound New York Knicks, or allowing a call-up from the NBA Developmental League to lead his team in scoring and finish with a double-double in his first career NBA start.
The Wizards have experienced both on consecutive nights as they enter the final 11 days of the season.
It was bad enough that Washington couldn’t rid itself of the stench of an atrocious defeat the night before at Madison Square Garden in Saturday’s 98-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Verizon Center.
What made it worse was that while the Wizards were getting blown out 103-65 in Manhattan, Luke Harangody was putting up 16 points and nine rebounds for the Canton Charge in the NBDL playoffs. On Saturday morning, the second-year forward flew to Washington, and by the end of the night, he had a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds as a replacement for former Wizard Antawn Jamison, who was being allowed to rest for the second of three games in three nights.
“I think everybody was mad about how yesterday went, but I mean before the game, we all said we had another game to play,” said John Wall, who led Washington with 19 points and nine rebounds. “We came out and played, we just didn’t come with no energy and they just got whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.”
The Wizards (14-46) have lost 12 of their last 15 games, but only two days before, they had been basking in the competitiveness and confidence of their second two-game winning streak of the year, and momentum that might possibly build coach Randy Wittman's case for being retained next season.
“That’s a good point, and one that I don’t have an answer for,” Wittman said.
The start was ominous as Wall badly missed a banked runner while Jan Vesely (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Kevin Seraphin (15 points, four rebounds, two blocks) each airballed jump shots as Washington missed four of its first five shots.
The Cavaliers relinquished their advantage after the Wizards went on a 14-4 run concluded by Wall’s third midrange jumper of the night, but he, too, airballed a potential buzzer beater as the first period ended with the teams tied at 22.
The Wizards tied game at 52 early in the third period when Wall fed Jordan Crawford (18 points, three assists) and at 73 on the first basket of the fourth quarter by James Singleton (13 points, six rebounds), but they never took the lead again.
“We lost all ability to really grab any control of the game,” Wittman said. “We never had any control of the game. We were playing from behind or catch-up it felt like the whole game, even when we did grab the lead.”
Cleveland, which had lost 15 of its previous 18 games and played without No. 1 overall draft pick Kyrie Irving (sprained right shoulder), finished with six players in double figures to Washington’s five, including two other former Wizards, Alonzo Gee (11 points) and Lester Hudson (10 points). All the Wizards had to celebrate was Vesely’s second career double-double, which he completed with a putback slam at the end of the third quarter. But it was cancelled out by an equally dismal performance from the bench, which aside from Singleton, who was 6-for-10 from the field, missed 15 of 19 shots.
After the game, Cartier Martin, who was 2-for-9, sat at his locker staring at the box score. He then wadded it up, tossed it aside and shook his head.
“We got 10-11 days left,” Wittman said, “and you don’t want to go out like this.”