- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

LAS VEGAS | Nick Young was the only Washington Wizards player to appear in every game last season, and that experience clearly carried over to the start of the NBA Summer League.

Young scored a game-high 36 points, and the Wizards recovered from blowing a late 14-point lead to edge the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-93 on Tuesday night at Thomas & Mack Center.

“Nick made himself hard to guard,” Wizards summer league coach Randy Wittman said. “Sometimes a young guy that can score and shoot just runs around out there. Nick was moving with a purpose - stopping, starting, creating a gap to get free. He made himself difficult to guard, and then he made shots.”

Young went 13-for-19 from the field to lead the hot-shooting Wizards, who made 54.7 percent of their shots (35-for-64) in their summer league debut. Washington next will face the Denver Nuggets at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at Thomas & Mack Center.

Young, a third-year guard and former USC standout, was especially lethal from beyond the arc, hitting five of eight 3-point attempts.

“That’s definitely something I’ve been working on,” Young said. “I was hoping to make six, but I’ll take five.”

The Wizards’ starting lineup of Young, Kyle Spain, JaVale McGee, Javaris Crittenton and Andre Blatche jumped out to an early 12-4 lead. But the Cavaliers (0-3) pulled within 22-21 by the end of a wild first quarter.

“That’s going to happen,” Wittman said. “Coming out together for the first time - whether it’s summer league or regular season - adrenaline is going, and that is expected. I would have been surprised if we didn’t play like that.”

That Cleveland comeback was short-lived, however, as the Wizards opened the second quarter on a 17-4 run before heading into halftime leading 47-37.

The Wizards allowed the Cavaliers to stay in the game, though, as Washington struggled to keep Cleveland off the free throw line. Washington committed 29 fouls, and the Cavaliers converted them into 21 points.

“It’s something we need to work on,” Wittman said “We were moving 100 miles an hour at first, and then I think we did get under control a bit as the game went on.”

With a comfortable 75-61 lead after three quarters, the Wizards emptied the bench in the final minutes with Tyrese Rice, Jason Rich and Alade Aminu taking the floor.

Washington’s bench blew the lead, though, as Cleveland tied the game at 84-84 with 1:14 remaining.

Blatche converted a three-point play on the ensuing possession to put the Wizards back on top, and Washington went 9-for-10 from the free throw line to seal the victory. Blatche led the Wizards with 10 rebounds and finished second on the team with 21 points.

“The good thing is that they stayed with it,” Wittman said. “We made plays at the end; that’s part of it. It’s not always going to be a cakewalk. Even though we had a chance to put them away, we didn’t. [Cleveland] fought back, and you have to give them some credit.”

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