Wizards 135 (ot)
February 6, 2017 – Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
The streak is over, but “there’s nothing to be ashamed of” according to head coach Scott Brooks. After one of the best – top five over the past 45-years according to a team official – Washington Wizards regular season games the home team did not come out victorious for the first time in two months. In an “instant classic” per Brooks, the Cavaliers pulled a rabbit out of their hat to steal a victory. Washington fell to 30-21 as their 17-game home winning streak came to a close at the count of a 140-135 overtime loss.
Tony Brothers is not a brother to the DC area. There were several questionable calls in the early going that favored Cleveland. Markieff Morris picked up two fouls in less than five minutes to which the second one was described as “horseshit” by the power forward. Other head shakers included Kelly Oubre getting very late foul call and Kyrie Irving ramming into Otto Porter without a call at all. Both Brooks and John Wall had a conversation with Brothers during a timeout but it did not change the scoreboard as Washington trailed 15-8, which would be Cleveland’s largest lead all game.
The Wizards ended the quarter on an extended 24-11 run to somehow go into the second up six, 32-26. The Cavs came up empty on their last seven possessions, not including a three-second violation technical free throw, with two turnovers and five straight missed shots after starting 8 of 14 shooting. Bradley Beal led the charge with 10 points in the quarter.
The bench might have only scored 16 points out of the team’s 135, but they held up their end of the stick to start the second. When John Wall exited, Washington was up six and when he re-entered with 6:47 left in the half, the margin was the same at 43-37. Morris has been the constant bridge between the two units and he made his presence felt with eight points in the quarter.
Many think Tristan Thompson is overpaid because he is primarily an energy player that is not very skilled offensively. The Canadian big man would tie his season-high in points with 19 because of easy opportunities around the rim thanks to LeBron James. In the final 3:19 of the first half, Thompson had two dunks, a layup, and a short floater all assisted by James. These shots were mostly open as Washington was constantly rotating on defense all night. The Wizards went into intermission up 57-54.
Things would have been really ugly if Washington did not have Bradley Beal tonight. (So as an aside, you are ignorant if you think he did not deserve the max contract this summer.) Beal was hot and his teammates knew it. The sharp shooter made a 3 assisted by Morris, a long 2 assisted by Wall, and a step back 3 assisted by Gortat via the pass and screen. Washington had their largest lead at 68-59 and, given the start of the season, the impossible was looking very much possible.
In a matter of 99 seconds, the Cavs tied things up. Thompson took advantage of more rotations on defense and then Kevin Love exploded. It was as if he wanted to quiet any Love for Melo trade rumors before LeBron did it for him after the game. Love had 15 points in the quarter on seven shot attempts including three made three-pointers. Headed to the fourth quarter of play, Cleveland led 86-82.
LeBron on NY Post report that sparked recent rumors involving Kevin Love trade: "it's trash. And the guy who wrote it is trash." pic.twitter.com/TTzaImq2JQ
— A.B. Sharif (@Abdu11ah) February 7, 2017
As I was telling people on bloggers row at Verizon Center, this game was absurdly drunk. By that I mean there was so much back and forth action and when coupled with the playoff like atmosphere from the fans, this will go down as one of the greatest regular season games of all time. The game featured 16 lead changes and 15 ties, including seven of each in the fourth quarter alone. As Brooks said in his post-game presser, it is a shame either team had to lose.
After LeBron split a pair of free throws to begin the frame, Washington immediately went on an 8-0 run in under 100 seconds. Beal hit a couple jumpers to get things started and the run ended with a beautiful pass from Satoransky to Oubre on the fast break. With over nine minutes to play in regulation, Washington led 90-87.
The story of the game, however, was the Cavs’ shooting. Cleveland made 19 (!!) three-pointers, which is only good for their fourth best this season even though it would be four better than Washington’s best all year. The Cavs had eight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter alone including six in the final 4:18. It all culminated with the luckiest and most heart-breaking overtime forcing shot I have ever seen. Morris claimed that James stepped out of bounds and you could argue that he also traveled. Oubre put it best though: “kind of have to chalk it up to the basketball gods.”
Cavaliers' Kevin Love goes deep to LeBron James, who banks in last-second game-tying three (all angles) pic.twitter.com/AR10o0x8xH
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 7, 2017
When James fouled out for just the fifth time in his career and just the first time since January 2014, the was a resounding exhale from the majority of Verizon Center. Wizard fans thought they were on their way to a victory up 124-120 after a Gortat bucket and a couple Beal free throws. WRONG!
Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre would both foul out in a span of 2:35, which left Scott Brooks starring at his bench trying to find a fifth player. Tomas Satoransky got the call because of his length that allowed the team to switch everything defensively. Beal put the Wizards up 133-131 with 1:20 to go but then Kyrie Irving decided to finally do something. The Duke product hit a mean 13-footer at a sharp angle to tie the game before a clutch 3-pointer in 2016 NBA Finals fashion. Beal could not hit an impossible shot with 10 seconds to go to try for a desperation tie and the Wizards fell in an exhilarating game.
#WizCavs in a Tweet
Brb having a heart attack pic.twitter.com/28TnjzwQue
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) February 7, 2017
The Game’s Top Performer
Bradley Beal – 41 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds.
The Panda was filling it up from all over the place tonight. Beal abused Richard Jefferson by driving to the hole, but he kept Cleveland off balance by knocking in six three-pointers for good measure. In his game-high 45:20 on the court, Beal gave it his absolute all and that is all you can ask for.
A forgettable night for..
A case could be made for Trey Burke as he was benched in the second half and blew a sure fire fast break opportunity in the first half, but let’s give it to the Cavs starters that was scoreless in nearly 24 minutes. He also got his ankles broken, nearly literally as he would leave the game and not return with injury.
Wizards' Bradley Beal drops Cavaliers' Iman Shumpert pic.twitter.com/KSsLDChfUH
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 7, 2017
Key Stat of the Night
LeBron James, “one of the greatest of all-time” according to Brooks before the game, set a career-high in assists with 17. Couple that with his 32 points, The King contributed to 74 of the Cavs 140 points, an astonishing number for a non-point guard.
Washington will travel to the Barclay’s Center on Wednesday night for a showdown with the Brooklyn Nets. The Wizards will try to win their third straight against the lottery bound Nets this season and it could get ugly should they take their pent-up anger out on them as Beal alluded post game after the Cavs loss. “Everybody is pissed,” Beal said. “We hate to lose, especially when we feel like we had the game won. It was in our hands several times throughout the night, and we kind of just let it go. Nobody’s in a good mood, which is a good thing for us. Hopefully we just take it out on Brooklyn.”