It was bound to catch up with them sooner or later. The Cavaliers had been living on the edge in the second halves of games for the past several. Tonight the Wizards made them pay. They held the Cavs to 39 percent shooting in the second half and forced 10 turnovers and outscored them 64-40. At times the offense looked stagnant with the Cavs doing basically nothing but standing around waiting for grass to grow. There was little in the way of ball movement and the team was far too willing to settle for jump shots rather than attacking the hoop.
Offensively and defensively it was clear that they missed the presence of Shaquille O'Neal on the inside. The Wizards got far too many easy layups and they did well in the paint as well, scoring 38 points. It also allowed Antawn Jamison to score virtually at will in his season debut. In all, he hit 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Game: Cavs (8-3) at Washington Wizards (3-7)
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starting lineup: Cavs: LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Wizards: Caron Butler (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Brendan Haywood (C); Gilbert Arenas (G); Mike Miller (G).
Injuries: Cavs: Shaquille O'Neal (strained shoulder), Anderson Varejao (hip contusion); Jamario Moon (left sprained ankle).
Wizards: Officials: Eddie Rush, Joe Forte and Bennie Adams.
Last time around the Cavs caught the Wizards as they were contending with the injury to big man Antawan Jamison. Guess who's back to face the Cavs in round two of their battle? Jamison returns and the shoe is on the other foot this time as the Cavs will be without big men Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao. J.J. Hickson has progressed in each game he's started thus far, but his defense remains suspect with coach Mike Brown even calling him out about it in his post game interview after the Warriors' game despite a 21-point effort. The message was clear as a bell ringing on a winter's night: "get your defensive game together, young man"
The Wizards have lost six games in a row, the latest being a 106-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons. The Cavs have won five in a row and more importantly, the are developing some semblance of team chemistry. Whether that's enough to carry them through tonight with missing two big men remains to be seen.
According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, the Wizards have been in an early season funk and that brought out Jamison's wrath recently after a loss to the Indiana Pacers. In an 82-game season you generally have to discount most games during the early season, but here's guessing that the Wizards, who view the Cavs as one of their main rivals, would love nothing more than to rack up a victory against the Cavs on Jamison's first night back. Washington's coach, Flip Saunders, is counting a lot on Jamison helping to ground the team. Part of the problem has been Gilbert Arenas' lack of comfort in Saunders' offense and his disjointed play with Caron Butler.