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Game Notebook 33 – Wizards vs. Cavs: Death By Royal Decree

Cavaliers 121
Wizards 115

January 6, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

NBA Stats Box Score

For 5 years now, the dominion of the Eastern Conference has been ruled by King James. Though his castle has changed cities, the throne has remained his. Year after year, night after night, new threats emerge and new uprisings begin from every city within his realm.

In DC, the rebellious Wizards led by John Wall revolted last night against the King, but like so many others, their DC uprising was thwarted.

The strategy of Wall’s crew was clear from the outset: Attack, attack, attack! The Wizards pushed the tempo at every opportunity. Blatant thievery led to this early Wall hammer strike:

And Wall followed with his own supernatural Wizardry soon after:

But while their attack was constant, creating 12 first quarter fast break points, Cleveland found points of weakness: They grabbed 7 first quarter offensive rebounds and locked in to favorable 1-on-1 duels (they had ZERO first quarter assists) to maintain a tie at 24 after one.

Facing a stern test of resolve in DC, Cleveland released their flame thrower in the 2nd quarter. JR Smith. And throw fire, JR Smith did. He hit 3 of 5 threes in the 2nd quarter, finishing with 15 first half points, and helped give the Cavs a 62-50 half time lead.

And as the horn sounded to start the third quarter, King James himself emerged, armed with flaming three-pointed arrows and this royal hammer:

But the Wizards combated LeBron’s four early threes with a flaming barrage of their own. As a team, the Wizards would hit 8/11 threes in the quarter, led by an unexpected hero, Garrett Temple, who rose from his peasant ranks to match LeBron’s fourteen third quarter points with fourteen of his own. An inspired Wizards rebellion found new life, and a Ramon Sessions dunk early in the 4th tied the game at 95, and awoke the entire army housed within the Verizon Center.

But with the King’s onslaught failing to prove fatal, Cleveland unleashed a final, deadly, and vicious executioner.


Wielding an orange leather mace with ruthless aggression, Kyrie Irving delivered majestic strike after majestic strike. Spectacular lay ups. Step back jumpers. Threes. Kyrie executed each with ease and precision, his 19 fourth quarter points crushing the Wizards rebellion.

LeBron James has many battles left to fight in his war to keep the title of “King in the East,” but he leaves the Battle at Verizon with a 121-116 victory.

For now, DCs regicide will have to wait.

The Game’s Top Performer

Garrett Temple – 21 points; 14 points in 4th quarter; 4-9 3PT

When LeBron James attempted to strike a third quarter death blow to the Wizards, it was Temple who stepped up to shield the blow. Temple hit 3/3 threes in the quarter, scored 14 points, matching LeBron, and finished the game as the Wizards leading scorer with 21 points. This Temple deserves praise.

A forgettable night for..

John Wall

The Wizards needed a “William Wallace” level performance from John Wall, but their hero simply didn’t have it on this night. Instead of fireballs and lightning, Wall could only summon bricks from his arms and turnovers from his arse. His final stat line, 20 points and 12 assists, was padded by 8 meaningless points in the waning minutes. Wall had just 12 points with the game in the balance, shot just 8/19, and committed 7 turnovers.

Other Takeaways:

  • The value of help for your superstar cannot be understated.

    Yes, LeBron had 34-10-4. But Kyrie added 32, JR Smith added 25, and Kevin Love didn’t even get it going. With the Wizards playing solid team D, the Cavs were able to go to an Iso-heavy offense, draw favorable match-ups, and then let multiple weapons attack the Wizards. The Cavs had just 16 team assists on 48 made FGs. As currently constituted, the Wizards simply don’t have this type of ability. They need Wall to be unreal every night, even when this lack of star support makes it even more difficult to be unreal. LeBron has Kyrie. Dwyane Wade has Chris Bosh. Kyle Lowry has Derozan. Jimmy Butler has Derrick Rose. Paul George has Monta Ellis. Jeff Teague has Paul Milsap. What does John Wall have?

  • Tempo.

    The Wizards look great when they push the pace, but it’s hard to sustain for 48 minutes. The Wizards pushed even on makes in the first quarter, scoring 12 fast break points, but they had just 10 fast break points in the final three quarters.

  • Rebounding continues to be a problem.

    The Wizards were out rebounded 44-33, and gave up 13 offensive rebounds. They allowed 7 offensive rebounds in the first quarter, allowing the Cavs to stay close, rather than giving themselves a nice early cushion and momentum for the rest of the game.

  • Free throw shooting.

    The Wizards shot 17/27 from the free throw line. Including this bizarre miss.

    There’s not a lot to analyze here. That’s 10 free points left on the table in a 6 point game.

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