- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

CLEVELAND — Yes, LeBron James is a 19-year-old prodigy, capable of making his teammates look better than they actually are, tabbed by many to be the next great superstar.

But little out of the ordinary was required of James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday. The Washington Wizards displayed a plethora of inadequacies in absorbing their worst loss of the season, 105-74, in front of 16,105 at Gund Arena.

The 74 points the Wizards struggled to score represented by far their lowest point total of the season. Washington shot a season-low 33 percent (29-for-87) from the floor, and that’s only the beginning of its problems.

The Cavaliers out-rebounded the Wizards 62-32 and more than doubled their assists (31-15) in dropping Washington to 3-3.

“This game is over with and we got beat down,” said Washington’s Gilbert Arenas, who led the Wizards with 25 points. “We’ve just got to get ready for tomorrow. We’ve got a 1 o’clock game and we’ve got to be ready for it this time.”

The Wizards play host to Dallas today at MCI Center, and they’ll need to get off to a better start against the Mavericks than they have in their first six games. Before the Cleveland game the Wizards were averaging a little more than 19 points in the first quarter. Yesterday they opened with a season-low 11 points in the period.

“We got off to a bad start and we didn’t have any energy at the beginning of the game,” Arenas said. “They came out hyped. They did everything they could and we just couldn’t stop them.”

James was the best player on the court, just as he was two nights earlier when he posted a season-high 38 points in an impressive overtime win over Phoenix. The NBA’s leading scorer, James finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals before coach Paul Silas started pulling his starters with just more than six minutes to play and Cleveland coasting 92-67.

The Wizards were out of this one almost as soon as it started, missing 11 of their first 12 shots from the floor and falling behind 12-0.

Trailing 56-35 early in the third, the Wizards rallied with a 19-4 run to get as close as 60-54. But the Wizards would get no closer than that the rest of the way. Their loss was guaranteed by a 5-for-23 shooting performance in the final period.

“It takes so much out of you,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of his team’s comeback in the third. “We got it to six but then they made some big shots. And then what did we do? We missed shots again in the halfcourt and they felt good about themselves.”

“The way we shot the ball we probably should have gotten out-rebounded by more than that,” said Antawn Jamison, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. “They came out and they wanted to make a statement. That’s just what they did.”

Coincidentally or not, Washington was 3-2 last year when it came to Cleveland and lost a game that was remembered more for Arenas tossing the ball into the stands at halftime. After that game, the Wizards lost 19 of their next 23 and effectively disappeared from the NBA playoff race.

For the Wizards, the first quarter yesterday was as catastrophic as an Irwin Allen disaster movie and they never really recovered.

From there, everything was uphill. At one point Cleveland used a 13-0 run that began in the first quarter and ended in the second that put the Cavs up 31-11.

Cleveland’s Drew Gooden finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Cavaliers also got a turnover-free, 13-point, 11-assist effort from Jeff McInnis.

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