Cavaliers glide past Wizards 117-94   
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Friday night the Cleveland Cavaliers (44-28, 28-8 home) welcomed the Washington Wizards (32-37, 16-20 road) to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse two days after suffering a devastating loss to the Philadelphia 76ers 118-109.

The two teams have met twice this season with the Cavs winning both. The first in Cleveland on October 23 117-107 in overtime. The second in D.C. on February 6th 114-91. The Cavs have won three straight overall, but the Wizards lead the all-time series 118-112. But the Cavs do hold the all-time lead in Cleveland (Cleveland Arena, Richfield Coliseum, RMFH) 67-47. The Cavs took one more step toward evening the all-time series, winning the game in relatively easy fashion 117-94.

The Cavs were once again without Jarrett Allen (eye) for the fourth straight game. The Cavs took an early 5-2 lead after Donovan Mitchell was fouled while shooting behind the three points line. He drained all three free throws with 11:03 left in the first quarter. The Cavs extended their lead courtesy of a turnover by the Wizards and a fast break by Isaac Okoro who’s shot was swatted away but the Wizards were called for a goal tend and the Cavs led 11-5 with 9:18 left on the clock. The Cavs extended the lead to nine points at 20-11 with 6:43 left in the first period on a dunk by Darius Garland on a nice pass from Okoro. The Wizards showed life scoring the next seven points pulling the Cavs to within two points at 20-18 with 4:28 left on the first quarter clock. The Cavs responded with a 7-0 run capped off by a fast break layup by Caris LeVert giving Cleveland a 27-18 lead with 2:46 left on the first quarter clock. As the clock ran out in the first quarter the Cavs led 31-24. Mitchell led all scorers with 10 first quarter points. Kristaps Porzingis led the Wizards with nine points. The Cavs were winning the battle in the paint 20-14. Both teams turned the ball over three times. The Cavs won the battle of the boards in the first out rebounding the Wizards 12-8.

The Cavs extended the lead to 40-27 with 9:29 left on the clock on a fast break dunk by LeVert courtesy of the sixth turnover of the first half. Washington floor boss Wes Unseld, Jr. had no choice but to call a timeout to calm his troops. The Cavs continued to build their lead to 14 at 43-29 with 7:58 left on the clock when Osman hit a three on a nice assist from Ricky Rubio. The lead ballooned to 17 at 53-35 when Mitchell hit a turnaround jumper in the paint and drew a foul, hitting the foul shot and completing the three point play with 4:07 left on the second quarter clock. The Cavs seemed determined to not let up and continue to build a lead. By the 3:21 mark of the second quarter the Cavs lead was 21 at 58-37. The Wizards cut the Cavs lead to 16 at 58-42 with 2:03 left on the first half clock on a jumper in the paint by Porzingis. With 1:29 left in the half Evan Mobley ignited the crowd with an emphatic block of Porzingis sending the basketball into the crowd sitting behind the basket. As the first half buzzer rang the Cavs led 61-44. Mitchell led all scorers with 16 first half points. Garland had 15. Porzingis and Monte Morris paced the Wizards with 11 each on the first 24 minutes. As a team the Cavs led in every offensive category with the exception of three-point range where the Cavs were only 2 of 9 (22%) and the Wizards were 4 of 15 (27%) from long range. The Cavs won the battle of the boards 24-21 and had 17 first half assists. The Wizards turned the ball over 10 times resulting in 15 Cavs points. Meanwhile the Cavs turned it over only four times resulting in just two Washington points.

In the early going of the third quarter the Cavs were cold and the Wizards were not as they cut the Cavs lead to 64-55 on a Morris jumper with 8:06 left in the period. The Cavs built the lead back to 16 at 71-55 with 5:30 left on a jumper by Garland in the paint. Washington once again cut the lead to nine at 73-64 with 3:30 left on the clock in the third when Morris hit two free throws. Things were starting to get serious with 1:08 left in the third courtesy of a couple Porzingis free throws and the Wizards had cut the Cavs lead to 79-72. The Cavs lead remained double digits at the end of the third at 84-74 courtesy of a Mobley dunk with :15.5 left on the third quarter clock and some good Cavs defense to stifle Washington’s final possession of the quarter. Porzingis led all scorers with 20. Mitchell led the Cavs with 18. Garland had 18 and Mobley had 13. LeVert was also in double figures with 11. The Wizard outrebounded the Cavs 12-8 in the third to take a 33-32 rebounding edge.

The Cavs scored the first five points of the final quarter to extend their lead to 89-74 on a fast break alley-oop dunk from Garland to LeVert with 11:22 left on the game clock. The Cavs were 4 for 4 from the field in the first 1:39 of the fourth quarter extending their lead to 93-77 forcing Washington to take a timeout in an attempt to stop the Cleveland 9-3 run. With 8:56 left on the clock the Cavs led 93-77 and Mobley was charged with an offensive foul as he was in the air heading to the basket. It appeared that Wizards big man Anthony Gill flopped, but the challenge was unsuccessful. But one must remember Mobley is Mobley not Joel Embiid therefore the foul stood, it was Mobley’s third of the game. The Wizards cut the Cavs lead to 100-87 with 5:48 left on a layup by Kyle Kuzma. With 5:23 left the forever whining Porzingis committed transition take foul Rubio went to line converting the free throw as Porzingis cried a river to the game official nearest to him. Somehow the foul was Porzingis’s first of the game. After Rubio converted the free throw Cleveland got possession and cashed in as Mobley got the rebound and deposited in the basket giving the Cavs a 103-87 lead with 5:10 left in the game. After another Washington turnover as steal by LeVert, the Wizards 17th turnover of the game he dished it to Garland who put it in the basket giving Cleveland a 107-87 lead with 3:55 left on the clock. Cavs boss JB Bickerstaff then cleared the bench as it was apparent the result of this game had been decided. Only the final scored remained in question as the Cavs were on their way to their 45th win of the season and 29th at home.  The 45th win eclipses the win total of 44 from the 2021-22 season.  When the final buzzer sounded the Cavs prevailed by a score of 117-94. Garland led all scorers with 24 points, the Cavs had three men with over 20 points as Mobley and Mitchell each had 20. Garland had nine assists falling one short of a double double. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 22 in the losing effort. Porzingis was held scoreless in the final period finishing with 20.

The Cavs won the battle of the glass 41-38 outrebounding Washington 9-5 in the final period. The only thing the Cavs struggled with in the game was from behind the three point line as they shot 4 of 19 (21%). From the field overall though they shot 48 of 87 (55%) holding the Wizards to 35 of 76 (46%). The Cavs defense kept the Wizards off balance all night stealing the ball nine times. Caris LeVert had four the nine Cavs thefts.

The Cavs will be in action next on Tuesday in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center at 7:30 pm. The game will be the first of two in Brooklyn. The second will also be at 7:30 pm on Thursday night.. 
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​POSTED 03/17/2023 22:18
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Evan Mobley dunks over the Wizards Friday Night.           Photo by Tommy Shirer