Game Notes: Cavs at Wizards
The Wizards played like Eastern Conference contenders.
by Aaron Kaplowitz
Making his season debut count, Antawn Jamison led the Washington Wizards to a convincing and much needed victory at home on Wednesday night, thumping the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-91. Jamison scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, offering The District a glimpse of the team’s potential with its star power forward back in the lineup.
Trailing by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, Washington clawed back and entered the final stanza with a three-point lead, 75-72.
“We didn’t get any player movement and we didn’t get any ball movement in the second half,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said after the game. “Washington was the more aggressive team tonight…especially in the second half.”
With 10:30 to play, Earl Boykins blurred toward Mo Williams, spun away, and nailed the long jumper to the crowd’s delight. Three minutes later, he sneaked past Williams and scooped in a lefty finger-roll to push Washington’s lead to 92-78. On the following possession, Boykins drove down the lane before hitting a short pull-up while getting fouled. His free throw pushed the lead to 19, allowing the Wizards relative peace of mind over the final six minutes.
“People don’t realize because of my size that I always have an advantage,“ said the diminutive Boykins. “I never have to change the way I play basketball, and everyone has to adjust to me.”
Behind LeBron’s nine points and seven assists, Cleveland established early control, leading 32-22 after the first quarter. Jamison’s 13 points kept the Wizards within reach, while the rest of the team shot a combined 3-14 from the field.
Washington went stone cold to start the second quarter, going scoreless over the first five minutes before a Jamison runner snapped the drought.
Sitting on a comfortable lead, Brown pulled James for most of the second quarter. Mike Miller, a proven catalyst, drained back-to-back threes. As he has been quietly doing all season, Miller consistently takes the right shots, makes the right cuts and throws the right passes. Although his three at the buzzer was fractions of a second late, Miller led the Wizards into the locker room trailing be seven.
On the night, James finished with a business-as-usual 34 points and nine assists. He had no shortage of highlights, following a forceful left-handed slam with his signature one-handed, soaring throw-down. Icing his wrist after the game, James admitted that he may have slammed the ball down too hard.
- The Washington Redskins’ London Fletcher waited outside of the Cavs’ postgame locker room, perhaps joining Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini in the LeBron Pursuit. Earlier Wednesday, Mangini invited James to boost his floundering team. “I think he should come down,” the coach said during a press conference. James was an all-state wide receiver in high school.
-The half-time show was easily the most ridiculous exhibition by man I have ever witnessed. Words cannot describe the absurdity of a man contorting his body through a tennis racquet. If anyone has a video link, please post it.
- It took me 45 minutes of basketball to figure out Caron Butler’s role in the Wizards’ offense: shoot technical free throws when Gilbert Arenas is on the bench.
- With three minutes to play in the third, Jamison hit a tough layup while fouled. The Verizon Center Jumbotron displayed a slow motion replay, unintentionally (I presume) showing Jamison clearly yell “Hell yeah, motherf—er.” This was the wholesome moment of the night.
- Arenas shot 6-for-22, including 1-for-8 on three-pointers. After the game he referred to this first month as “an extended preseason” for himself.
- Shaq’s absence was apparent. Cleveland lacked an inside presence, and, with Jamison’s return, Haywood was able to focus on what he does best: rebound and block shots.
- You can have Kobe, LeBron, Dwight, Durant and Darko. I’ll take Earl Boykins as the most fun player in the NBA to watch.