Wizards 88, Cavs 87 --Let's get a few things out of the way off the bat. First, tremendous shot by Caron Butler and a tremendous performance. LeBron James was on him pretty good and he didn't have a great angle, especially with Ben Wallace coming to help, and he got it in there. Although, am I crazy or did someone's hand who hit the bottom of the the net maybe help wiggle that ball in? No matter, it went it. Second, LeBron drew contract to be sure on his last shot but it was a fair no call. Darius Songalia didn't jump or even hit him on the upper body, he got off a fair try. Though the scene was a little wild. All the Cavs were standing on the court like they'd heard a whistle and so were some of the Wizards. Then the refs all go to the center of the floor, look at each other for a minute and then walk over to the scorer's table. Everyone in the arena thinks they are going to review it like the Philly game but, nope, they were just asking for their jackets. It was funny sort of, the whole arena didn't get it was over until they took the jackets. --OK, now the Cavs may really, really look back at this one and regret it. Like, depending on how things go, maybe regret it all summer. Up by five points, at home, in a closeout game with the ball and 1:47 left. The offense totally did nothing for three straight possessions. They come out of a timeout and LeBron dribbles the ball for 20 seconds and puts up a terrible 3-pointer. Then LeBron dribbles for awhile and Daniel Gibson puts up an open 3, but not a good 3 in my opinion. And Joe Smith misses a short jumper, but he really didn't have time because the shot clock was up because...LeBron had spent most of it dribbling. All this despite: 1. The officials were calling lots of fouls (LeBron got to the line 18 times and both teams got there a combined 27 times in the fourth quarte)r. 2. Darius Songalia was covering Zydrunas Ilgauskas with five fouls. Poor coaching and poor decision-making by LeBron. Yes, you are going to live and die with him making plays, but at this point in his career, he must know better. And Mike Brown needs to call something else after it doesn't work twice. --The Cavs shot 36 percent tonight and do you want to know how many layups they missed? Now think about it for a moment...form a guess in your head...it's pretty high...I was actually a little surprised when I counted them up...ready?...how about 15. That's right 15 missed layups. That's shots from two feet and less according to the stats folks, which means it doesn't even count LeBron's last shot. And, no, I am not counting tip in misses. Some of them were heavily contested but so many weren't (think Wally Szczerbiak) and it is just hard to overcome that in a game like this. --Indeed, the Wizards made some shots, but I felt the Cavs played pretty good defense. In the second half, in fact, the Wizards shot just 32 percent. Oh, then again, so did the Cavs. If you hold the Wizards to 87 points, it should be a victory. The Cavs held them to 86 in both Games 1 and 2 and got wins. The Wizards only won nine games this season when they didn't score 100 points and only three when they didn't score 90. So while you see a one-point loss, especially when LeBron missed the last shot, it is tempting to say those are the breaks and move on. But this was a Cavs-style game and a game they should've won. You must assume the Wizards have another good shooting night in them and it could be Friday. --I think based on this series it is safe to say that Washington plays better without Gilbert Arenas, at least right now. They move better on offense because he's not dribbling so much and they are slightly better on defense. Him sitting down might actually help them out. --So much happened after this, but you have to feel a pivotal moment in the game happened in the third quarter when the Wizards got five shots on one possession. The Cavs were on an 11-0 run at the time and up six points and who knows how big that run would've been had that not happened. It was a key turning point, the Wizards ended up going on a run to take the lead by the end of the quarter. By the way, Z only had one defensive rebound tonight. Some of the troubles are on him. --Don't think you have seen the last of the hack-a-Ben move. In general, I dislike it no matter who it is. However, in that moment it was quite smart and it forced him off the floor.
Wizards: Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood Cavs: Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Joe DeRosa, Mike Callahan, James Capers
--Gilbert Arenas decided, apparently on his own, that he's not playing tonight and not playing again this season. He made the announcement to the media about 70 minutes before game time. Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said it was the first he'd heard of it. So all that can't exactly thrill him. Apparently Gilbert took a shot before Game 4, which enabled him to go from five minutes to 32 minutes. But he was nervous about taking the shot and my guess is he didn't feel like doing it again, especially with his free agency coming up. Still, if Jordan honestly didn't know that had to destabilize the Wizards locker room somewhat. Meanwhile, Gilbert is bouncing around the halls here at Quicken Loans Arena acting as if everything is A-OK. --That said, the Wizards are used to playing without him and their win in this series came in a game in which he barely played. So it's not like he is the lifeblood of the team anymore. He hasn't been scoring much since Game 1 and maybe hurt them on defense at times. So don't expect Washington to just wave the white flag. --Sasha Pavlovic will be activated for this game. He took part in practice yesterday on his recovering sprained left ankle. Mike Brown said he likely won't play. --The Wizards are making rebounding a big key tonight. But one of the reasons Ben Wallace is getting rebounds -- and Anderson Varejao and Joe Smith -- is because the Wizards are double-teaming Zydrunas Ilgauskas and LeBron James at times and it is freeing up the weakside for rebounds. That and the Cavs are one of the best rebounding teams in the league, including the best offensive rebounding team. So they'll have to pick their poison a little on that tonight, they had done a good job of slowing down Z over the last few games.
Halftime -- Wizards 45, Cavs 43
--The Cavs are fortunate to only be down two points at this juncture. Had the Wizards not committed at least five unforced turnovers the disparity would be greater. Otherwise, the Wizards have played with a higher execution level. They are more active driving and kicking the ball on offensive, which has gotten them a bunch of open shots. Stevenson has taken the most advantage. --LeBron is not having a good offensive game, largely due to decision making. The Wizards are not doubling him as much on the outside but are doubling him on his drives and it has confused him a bit. It has kept him away from the basket and he's mostly settled for 3-pointers, which is the weakest part of his game. The Cavs are going to have to make some adjustments and he's going to have to find a better way to attack. --Wally Szczerbiak was terrible in his time in the game. Caron Butler scored 11 points on him and he committed three turnovers. However, Butler is really just making jumpers. In fact, in general, the Wizards have just shot jumpers well. --As for the latest little dustup from the first quarter, I am still not sure what happened. The Wizards said LeBron was pushing Darius Songalia, but even if he was, Songalia hit him in the head. So I am not sure why it was a technical and not another flagrant, maybe because it was after the play. Just another reason for the teams to dislike each other. --Zydrunas Ilgauskas has saved the Cavs in the first on offense. They have not shot the ball well, except on 3-pointers but Z has victimized Brendan Haywood when playing 1-on-1 and has two putbacks. Perhaps it is something the Wizards are doing, but I don't understand why there aren't more pick-and-pops to get Z mid-range jumpers with LeBron over the last few games.
Stars Butler, 32 points, nine rebounds, five assists Stevenson, 17 points, five rebounds James, 34 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists Z, 19 points, six rebounds
Quotes Eddie Jordan: " We got a miss for the first time since who knows when. It's been a (Sasha) Pavlovic make, it's a Delonte West make, it's a Daniel Gibson make, it's a Damon Jones make. Every game it seems like we lose. We finally get a miss." LeBron: "There was a lot of contact but I supposed to make that, I've made more difficult shots. We can't rely on me getting a foul at the end of the game. We didn't execute being up five and I had the ball in my hands for the most part. I'm supposed to put us in the position to do the right thing and I didn't do that. It's not like it's over, we're up 3-2. As long as I'm on the court, we have a great chance to win. Of course I am still confident." Butler: "We heard all the quotes of how the series was over. This team has been through a lot this season, a ton of adversity. We've proven all the doubters wrong and this is just another opportunity.
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