John Wall posted a season-high 27 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers (22-42) Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, but the Washington Wizards (20-42) could not hold it together in their 95-90 loss.
As has been the case since Wall’s return to the team on Jan. 12, his highest point totals appear at times to coincide with a lack of offense elsewhere – or, more importantly, a lack of Bradley Beal in the lineup.
The issue did not stem from the starting five – in fact, each starter tallied double-digit points and Emeka Okafor and Nene added 11 and 10 rebounds respectively. Wall also notched 14 assists and seven rebounds to add to the Wizards’ efforts.
Where the problem lied, instead, was the bench. The entire bench, collectively, recorded 11 points total. In 23 minutes of play, A.J. Price boasted just three points and two assists, and in 13 minutes, Trevor Booker added just two free throws to the scoreboard.
All this happened, of course, without Kyrie Irving on the court for Cleveland due to a sprained left shoulder.
Things could not have started any better for the Wizards, who scored the first 11 points of the game, thanks to three three-pointers from Martell Webster and an Okafor jumper.
Former Wizard Shaun Livingston started the Cavs’ comeback and, with 6:35 left in the first quarter, Cleveland had pulled within two points as the Wizards clung to a 13-11 lead.
Nevertheless, Washington maintained a 33-20 lead into the second quarter largely because of their ability to sink all 10 free throw attempts in the quarter.
By halfway into the second, however, the Cavaliers were right back on Washington’s tail and, with 3:35 remaining, Tristan Thompson earned a three-point play to put Cleveland in front 40-39.
The teams alternated turns at the line, but Cleveland emerged on top at the half by 50-49.
In the third quarter, the Wizards quickly vanished from the Cavs’ rearview mirror. Alonzo Gee hit back-to-back three-pointers and Washington handed over eight free throw attempts to the cause to widen Cleveland’s lead to 76-65.
John Wall went back-to-back with a driving dunk and a jumper to bring the Wizards within five points – trailing 80-75 with 7:41 remaining, but the effort fell short.
Dion Walters answered with a jumper and a driving layup, and Gee’s 25-footer put Cleveland up 88-76. The Wizards nearly rallied on a pair of foul shots by Wall and a Nene slam to make it 91-88 Cleveland, but Walters hit all four of his free throws to ensure the Cavs would win it, 95-90.
With the loss, the Wizards now hold a 5-25 road record – the worst in the NBA.