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Wizards defeat Cavaliers for fifth straight victory
CLEVELAND — John Wall had 21 points and 13 assists to help the Washington Wizards extend their longest winning streak since 2007 to five games with a 96-85 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Wall had 12 points, six assists and four steals in the third quarter, when he accounted for 24 of Washington’s 28 points and helped the Wizards open a 14-point lead. Wall added seven rebounds and seven steals.
While Washington’s star guard put on a show, Cleveland’s watched. Kyrie Irving, expected to be named the NBA’s rookie of the year next month, played only 10 minutes — all in the first quarter — of the Cavs’ home finale.
D.J. Kennedy led Cleveland with 12 points in his NBA debut.
Wizards rookie forward Jan Vesely had a season-high 12 rebounds and Kevin Seraphin scored 12.
Washington is finishing a disappointing season with an unexpected flourish. The Wizards, whose erratic play got coach Flip Saunders fired, last won five in a row from Nov. 11-21, 2007.
It wasn’t long ago when games between the Wizards and Cavaliers meant something. Washington and Cleveland met in the postseason three straight times from 2006-08, with the Cavs winning all three physical series. However, these days the clubs are collecting lottery Ping-Pong balls instead of playoff wins.
Although the game was meaningless, Wall played as if it mattered.
He scored Washington’s first basket with a layup to start the third quarter, and using that speed that few, if any, players in the league can match, Wall blazed through Cleveland’s defense almost at will. He went coast-to-coast for one layup, and later threw down a dunk left-handed.
Washington led 77-63 after three before the Cavs climbed back within 10 while Wall took a break. But Wizards interim coach Randy Wittman brought Wall back with 5:31 left and he quickly turned things back around, grabbing a loose ball before delivering a one-handed, behind-the-back pass to a trailing Vesely for a dunk.
Vesely was fouled and completed the three-point play to make it 94-77.
Irving missed the Cavs’ morning shootaround with the stomach flu, and the club sent out a release saying the 20-year-old was “doubtful” for the season’s final home game.
But Irving was determined to play, and after warming up he was cleared to play by Cleveland’s medical staff. The final decision, though, was left to coach Byron Scott and general manager Chris Grant, who didn’t announce Irving would suit up until 30 minutes before tipoff.
Scott, who told Irving he would limit his minutes, dismissed any suspicion the Cavs would sit their best player to improve their chances in the NBA lottery.
“It’s legit,” Scott said of Irving’s illness.
By John R. Bolton
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