Luol Deng was out with flu-like symptoms, and Kyrie Irving, who missed shootaround because he was ill, fought through his sneezing spells to help lead the Cavaliers to a 115-113 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday.
“I’m all right. It’s the best that I’m going to get right now,” Irving said.
The second-year guard admitted that the firing of Chris Grant, who drafted him, was troubling.
“That’s the sad part, the bad part about our business. Things are going to change whether you like it or not and you still have to go out there and perform as a professional. It was probably on our minds but we can’t use it as an excuse,” Irving said.
Cleveland took a 67-63 lead at halftime when Irving hit four free throws just before the intermission and never relinquished it.
Martell Webster hit two late 3-pointers to cut the lead to 115-113 with 2.9 seconds left. Cleveland’s Jarrett Jack missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining. A scramble resulted with Washington getting possession with 0.2 seconds left, but couldn’t get off a final shot.
“We wait until the last four minutes to fly around and decide to play defense. Last four minutes of the game. Everybody will say, you gave a great effort coming down the stretch. No we didn’t. For 44 minutes we didn’t give an effort,” Wittman said.
His team didn’t heed his warnings.
“We told them what that organization is going through right now. Some tough times with the firing of their GM. They’re going to be desperate. It always happens no matter who it is that gets fired,” Wittman said.
Washington fell to 24-25. It’s the 12th time they’re one game under .500 this season. The Wizards were one game over .500 after Monday’s win against Portland for the first time since Oct. 31, 2009, but they lost in double overtime to San Antonio on Wednesday.
“We’re not a very good team. Good teams don’t do that over and over and over and over again. We can get all caught up in .500, and I told you guys what that meant. Nothing. And think you’ve arrived. Good teams do not lose basketball games like this nine, ten, 11 times halfway through a season,” Wittman said.