Wizards 101, Cavs 99
--Cavs lost this game in the third quarter when they allowed 70 percent shooting and 34 points. Let's get that out of the way first. The Cavs do not play evenly on defense and recently they have had huge periods where they get lazy. I am not sure exactly where the blame goes here, but they will continue to have losses until they learn that lesson. They are not good enough on offense to give up 30-point quarters, especially on the road. --As for LeBron James deciding to go for a 3-pointer on the last shot. No, it wasn't the best idea, especially waiting until the buzzer so there could be not chance at an offensive rebound. But there's no doubt he was tired after playing 46 minutes last night and almost 44 tonight. The Cavs had expended so much energy trying to catch up. He said after the game he didn't want to play overtime, I don't blame him. He tried to be a hero and he missed. In other circumstances it may be an issue. But he didn't even go to the basket in the fourth quarter much, which I think had to do with fatigue, too. He had seven turnovers, also something you don't see from him much. That didn't decide the game. --DeShawn Stevenson did do a good job in the fourth quarter guarding LeBron. In fact, the Wizards did a nice job pressuring him on pick-and-rolls and not letting him get a head of steam to the basket in the second half. But Stevenson took personally. He missed the final shot in Cleveland when the Cavs beat Washington last month and he was trying to atone. He was carrying on with LeBron and Damon Jones all night. In the first half, Damon made a 3-pointer and waved his hand in front of his face to mock what Stevenson does when he makes 3s. Stevenson didn't like that and in the second half when he made a couple 3s he looked over at Damon and mocked his "three on a platter" and how Damon sometimes slaps his butt when he hits shots. Damon just stood up and glared at him. --But the stuff with LeBron was more personal. He told Michael Lee of the Washington Post after the game that LeBron was talking trash to him and that he wanted to get under LeBron's skin. Then he said: "LeBron is overrated" and made sure the quote was attributed to him. When LeBron is tired after playing 90 minutes in 24 hours, he isn't the same player, I agree. Stevenson did a good job in the fourth, so props to him. Yet poking one of the best players in the league just isn't a good idea. LeBron has proven to be tough on people who challenge him. Especially considering Stevenson shot 19 percent in the playoff series with the Cavs last season. Too bad the Cavs don't play the Wizards again this year, it would be interesting to see LeBron's response. --Ben Wallace played much better tonight. The time off did wonders and he was a real factor defensively down the stretch defending the basket. He was much more active overall. That is a major positive the Cavs can take out of this game. If he plays like that more often, he'll be valuable in the playoffs. --Wally Szczerbiak played just 12 minutes tonight and went 2-of-9. Last night he played lots of minutes but didn't get many shots and it looked like he was getting frozen out a bit. I think the fact that he takes so many shots gets on some of his teammates nerves, especially since he's making less than 30 percent of them right now. If Sasha Pavlovic gets some traction, and tonight he played pretty well, Wally might force some hard choices with playing time if he doesn't heat up. --Anderson Varejao had 10 rebounds in the first half, two in the second. He got tired, too. When one team is on a back-to-back and the other isn't, it makes a difference. Still, third quarter cost the game. --32 3-pointers attempted tonight, way too many. Again, I think a product of a tired LeBron and not having Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Cavs: Delonte West, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao Wizards: Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood
Officials Scott Foster, James Capers, Eric Lewis
--Ben Wallace is in uniform and it looks like he's going to give it a try. Keep an eye on how he jumps, his lift has been affected by the back spasms. If he struggles early, the Mike Brown may sit him down. --Brown is sticking with Sasha in the starting lineup, we'll see if he gets any more rhythm tonight. It is expected for it to take him several games, but I still wonder if he came back too soon. I guess we'll see. --Caron Butler is back after missing 16 games with a hip injury and tonight is his birthday. He could be a difference maker. Though, I expect him to be rusty as well. There are few tougher players in the league than this guy. --The Cavs signed Lance Allred to a 10-day contract. He is a big man who played at Weber State. He's a good rebounder and has some range, but he's an insurance policy with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wallace hurting more than anything. He is active tonight, though. --The Wizards love to score and run, we'll see if the Cavs feel like play defense tonight. It's anyone's guess.
Halftime -- Cavs 54, Wizards 46
--The Cavs got hot from the field at the end of the half, which helped them get separation. But the real difference was their defense. After allowing the Wizards to shoot 55 percent in the first quarter the Cavs held them to 8-of-24 in the second. Mostly because they were pretty physical around the basket. The referees seem to be letting lots go and the Cavs have been taking advantage. --Caron Butler isn't showing much rust, but he is taking a lot of shots. He is such a tough cover, the Cavs had Wally Szczerbiak on him for a few minutes in the second quarter and that just didn't work. We'll see how LeBron does on him down the stretch. --Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao are all much improved from their last games. Ben looks to be moving much better, although Jamison is a tough cover. Varejao has 10 rebounds already and his really throwing his weight around the basket. Sasha just had his best half of the season, but remember he is a streaky outside shooter. --The Cavs one issue is they have been heavy on 3-point shooting, going 8-of-14. That is a great number and and four guys have made 3s, but if they do it too much they will get in trouble. They have just nine assists on 20 baskets, which shows a bit of 1-on-1 play. --I am not sure why LeBron and DeShawn Stevenson have been talking trash. Stevenson really has no grounds to say anything on any level to LeBron. But they have had several exchanges and LeBron has been animated about it, especially during one timeout at the end of the first quarter. In the past, jawing with LeBron has not worked out for the other party. I wasn't aware of any issue between these two. --The crowd here is really, really into this game. There have been playoff crowds here not as active as this crowd, it has been a surprise to me.
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