April 5, 2018 | Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, OH
CLEVELAND — The Washington Wizards had a message they wanted to send to the Cleveland Cavaliers and with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, they forgot to press send. The Wizards wanted to put the Eastern Conference on notice that they can compete with the best of them. However, when it mattered most, Washington stood on the court like deer in headlights as LeBron James single-handedly came back from a 17-point deficit to win this game.
“I think offensively we were a little bit too slow too passive,” Bradley Beal said after the 119-115 defeat. “We probably should’ve stayed aggressive attacking the basket a little more. We settled for a lot of jumpers. And then defensively we weren’t getting back in transition. LeBron was getting full-steam ahead and put a lot of pressure on us and kind of sped the game up late.”
(Photo: David Liam Kyle via Getty Images)
The Wizards had no answers for LeBron James as they watched their 104-87 lead with 7:35 to go in the fourth quickly disappear. James finished the night with 33 points on 12-for-20 shooting from the field. Head coach Scott Brooks says he is proud the way his team fought back from a 15-point deficit but says in the fourth quarter they did not do well defensively.
“I think we missed a couple of layups. We missed a couple of threes. And then they shot 17 free-throws in the fourth quarter,” Brooks said. “Yeah, he’s [LeBron James] the best player on the planet. He’s going to be able to attack, but we can’t keep putting him on the free-throw line.”
Though the Wizards did not come away with a win tonight in Cleveland. Brooks says there are some positives to take away. The Wizards trailed 45-30 early and led by just as much towards the end of the game.
“I like the way we battled back,” Brooks said. “I didn’t think we had a good start to the first quarter. Our coverages were not what we talked about. We were giving Kevin Love anything he wanted in transition. And then we were turning the ball over. But I thought we settled ourselves down in that second quarter and then we played attack basketball. This is the first time we played like we need to play going forward in those last three quarters.”
John Wall Played Great Basketball
Yes, Wall wanted to send a message and make a statement. Despite losing the game, he did that. The five-time All-Star finished the game with 28 points on 10-for-20 shooting from the field. Additionally, he had 14 assists. Overall, the Wizards had six players in double-figures including Mike Scott who chimed in with 12 points for the second unit. He was 5-for-9 from the field and knocked down both of his three-point attempts. Wall said the Wizards did make a statement though the outcome of the game was not what they wanted.
“First-half we really gave those guys too much credit,” Wall said. “Second-half we started to compete and didn’t care who we were playing against and that’s the mindset you got to have. We just played Wizards’ basketball and that’s the way we suppose to play.”
Kelly Oubre Stays Unphased
Oubre has been having difficulties getting his shots to fall, especially from behind the arc. He says he is confident and will continue to work on his craft. Tonight, in Cleveland, he only attempted two three-pointers but missed them both. Now, he’s 2-37 from behind the arc dating back to March 23rd when he missed his final two three point attempts in the fourth quarter against Denver.
“Godspeed,” Oubre said. “They gonna fall. I shoot it enough, goddamn. I’m not really tripping off that, man. I’m going to go to the gym early tomorrow and get some reps up.”
Oubre says it is all mental and he’s good mentally regardless of his shooting percentage, which is an extremely positive sign for a 22-year old.
Next Game: The Wizards will play tomorrow to complete the back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks. Wall is not expected to play according to Brooks, but the latter said that could change as the former said he feels good. Of course, Wall said he would defer to whatever the coaches and trainers say. The Wizards have dropped three games in the row for just the second time this season, but they hope to turn things around as the season is ending in six days.