CLEVELAND — Darius Garland had 24 points and nine assists, Donovan Mitchell scored 20 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers never trailed in a 117-94 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Evan Mobley had 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots for the Cavaliers. They built a 21-point lead in the second quarter and didn’t allow Washington to get closer than seven.
Cleveland (45-28) moved three games ahead of New York and 4 1/2 in front of Brooklyn in the battle for fourth place in the East and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. The Cavaliers’ next two games are in Brooklyn.
The victory assured Cleveland of its winningest season since 2018, when it last made the playoffs and was swept in the NBA Finals by Golden State. Starting center Jarrett Allen missed his fourth straight game with a right eye contusion.
Bradley Beal scored 22 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Wizards. Washington (32-38) lost for the sixth time in eight games and fell into a tie with Indiana and Chicago for the final East play-in tournament spot.
The Cavaliers only made 4 of 19 3-pointers with Mitchell and Garland combining to miss their first 10 attempts. Caris LeVert had 15 points off the bench and Ricky Rubio added eight points and five assists.
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma had seven points after missing a game with a sore right knee. Corey Kispert scored 12 points and Monte Morris had 10 points, but Washington committed 17 turnovers that cost it 21 points.
Cleveland swept the three-game season series.
The Cavaliers are closing in on their first playoff berth without LeBron James on the roster since 1998, but coach J.B. Bickerstaff refuses to look too far ahead.
“We’ve got to go out and finish what we’ve started,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s our focus.”
Cleveland lost 10 of its final 13 games last season, including two in the play-in tournament, to finish 44-38 and extend its playoff drought to four years since James’ joined the Lakers.
Wizards: F Xavier Cooks — named MVP of Australia’s National Basketball League last month — signed a multi-year contract before the game. The 6-foot-8, 183-pound Australian went undrafted in 2018 after graduating from Winthrop. “Xavier is coming off a championship run (with the Sydney Kings) and had another excellent season,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “He did enough to get noticed.” Cooks is making his NBA debut.
Cavaliers: F Danny Green has only logged 41 minutes over five games since being signed Feb. 15 after his release by Houston. The three-time NBA champion has made 5 of 9 3-pointers with Cleveland. “There are guys who need reps and I’ve been talking to Danny about that,” Bickerstaff said. “I need to get him more five-on-five time.” … F Dean Wade, who made nine starts, has not appeared in five of the last six games.
Wizards: Host Sacramento on Saturday night.
Cavaliers: Visit Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.
Click to Read More and View Comments
Click to Hide
Please read our comment policy before commenting.