Cavs fall to Wizards 99-95 in preseason action
BY EDDIE DILWORTH
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott has an idea of what his regular season starting lineup will look like, but he's not telling.
"You'll find out preseason game 6," Scott said with a chuckle.
Ideally, Scott said he would like to have his starting lineup and rotation set heading into the final two preseason games. Saturday night against the Washington Wizards, the Cavs coach inserted rookie Dion Waiters into the starting lineup, differing from the starting five he put out in the first three preseason games. Cavs guard C.J. Miles moved to small forward and Alonzo Gee came off the bench for the first time this preseason.
Prior to Saturday's contest, Scott explained why Waiters would start his first NBA game.
"Just see what it does for us offensively," Scott said. "I think with Kyrie in there at times, there's just too much pressure on him to try to score and make plays for other guys. With Dion in there, now you have another guy who can make plays for other guys and can score.
"C.J. is another guy that can make plays and score, so having those three guys in there together, I'm kind of interested to see how that's going to work out."
The result was a entertaining 99-95 loss against the Wizards in Quicken Loans Arena.
"I thought we played pretty good," Scott said. "I thought at the beginning of the game we were stuck in mud a little bit...I thought the second half we did a little bit better job."
Scott rode a reserve cast of Gee, Donald Sloan, Jon Leuer, Tyler Zeller and Daniel Gibson the majority of the fourth quarter. Gibson sank a floater with 20 seconds to play in the contest, bringing the Cavs within a point of Washington, 96-95. Immediately after, Cleveland was forced to foul and sent A.J. Price to the free throw line.
Price drained the first, but missed the second of two chances. The batted around rebound wound up back in the hands of Price. Leading 97-95, Wizards rookie Bradley Beal wound up with the ball and was fouled with 7.7 seconds to play. Beal missed both free throws, but got his own rebound and was fouled again with 5.5 second to play. This time, the Washington rookie nailed both attempts and iced the game.
"Rebounding is still hurting us on the defensive end," Scott said. "Obviously, the last few on the free throws was the killer."
Tristan Thompson led the Cavs with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
With Alonzo Gee having a less than stellar preseason thus far, Scott may have had no other choice than to see what the starting lineup looked like with Waiters in it. An 18-point explosion by Waiters this past Friday against the Chicago Bulls may have also helped ease Scott's decision to tinker with the lineup.
Waiters' outing against Washington didn't mirror his last performance. The Cavs rookie shot 2-of-9 from the field and totaled four points.
Despite Irving, Miles and Waiters combining for seven points in the first quarter, the Cavs scored more points in the period than any other first quarter in the preseason thus far. The Cavs led 29-21 when the first quarter ended, led by Tristan Thompson's 13 points and six rebounds.
"The first half they (Irving, Miles and Waiters) just looked out of sync, which is understandable," Scott said. "That's why they were in there together. I thought the second half they looked a little bit better."
Anderson Varejao finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Miles chipped in 10 points and three assists, while Irving added nine points and seven assists.
In his first appearance off the bench this preseason, Gee produced his best game and finished with 13 points in 26 minutes.
Waiters, drafted No. 4 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, was matched up with Beal, the third-overall pick, for much of the night. Beal showed flashes of why the Wizards have high expectations of him, finishing with a team-high 14 points.
The Cavs have three games remaining on their preseason schedule, but it's likely Scott won't treat the final two games as exhibitions.
"The last two preseason games, kind of play it like it's a regular season game just for rotation purposes and so guys understand what kind of minutes they're going to be playing," Scott said.
The Cavs face the Orlando Magic on Monday in Cincinnati.
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POSTED 10/13/2012 23:36