When John Wall and Kyrie Irving go head-to-head, even a contest between two teams struggling to stay in playoff talks can be billed as a marquee matchup.
On Sunday night, however, Wall’s performance topped Irving’s as the Wizards’ point guard posted 21 points, nine assists and three rebounds to help Washington a 96-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza added 17 and 15 points, respectively, and the Wizards maintained control of the game since going on a 12-0 run halfway through the first quarter. The Cavaliers gained enough momentum to trim the Wizards’ lead to just three points by the end of the quarter, but Washington stayed a step ahead for the duration of the game.
And, it wasn’t without pomp and circumstance.
To close the first half, Nene fed to Wall for the slam to give the Wizards a 52-49 lead. Then, with 30 seconds remaining, Wall sank the first of back-to-back threes before the buzzer sounded.
Nene would go on to tally eight points, four assists and four rebounds in 21 minutes of play, but the hero of Saturday night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans found himself benched before day’s end after he banged knees with Spencer Hawes.
The Cavaliers could only match the Wizards’ 20 points in the third quarter, but the 22-35 Cleveland squad ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as Washington’s defense delivered.
Kevin Seraphin hit a pair of 10-footers before Beal added five points to help the Wizards pad their lead. Marcin Gortat, Wall and Ariza each came up with long jumpers, the last of which counted for three to close the book on the Wizards’ 96-83 win.
With the win, the Wizards are once again at .500, having won 14 games at home and 14 games on the road thus far this year.