WASHINGTON, February 29 – With LeBron James grabbing a rare night off to rest, the Cleveland Cavaliers proved no match for the Washington Wizards, losing 113-99 in an NBA matchup Sunday.
Washington guard John Wall had 21 points and 13 assists while Otto Porter added 21 points and Bradley Beal had 17 for the hosts.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said that after James scored 25 points in 40 minutes in a Friday win over Toronto, he wanted to give him a break after playing 56 of the team’s prior 57 contests this season.
“We have three games in four nights,” Lue said. “I just felt today was a good game to give him some rest.”
James leads the Cavaliers with 24.7 points and 35 minutes a game.
The Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers fell to 41-17 while the Wizards improved to 28-30.
The Wizards led after each quarter and by as many as 30 points in the second half on the way to inflicting Cleveland’s third loss in four games.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 28 points. Kevin Love added 12 points, but didn’t score in the second half.
“Our top leader [wasn’t] playing tonight. It’s another opportunity for guys to step in and relish that opportunity,” Irving said. “But our intensity level just wasn’t there.”
The Cavaliers fell to 0-2 this season without James and 3-12 when he sits since the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player returned to Cleveland before the 2014-15 season.
Lue benched his starters in the third quarter, including guard J.R. Smith.
“We can’t play basketball like this going down the stretch,” said Smith. “After losing a game to the number two team in the East and then you come out and get trashed, make it look good at the end. We can’t do that.
“If we’re serious about who we’re supposed to be, we can’t do this.”
– Horford bags double-double –
Centre Al Horford had his 200th career double-double and the Atlanta Hawks took advantage of the Charlotte Hornet’s early shooting troubles for an 87-76 win.
Horford tallied 16 rebounds to go with 13 points and the Hawks won the season series against Charlotte.
Charlotte couldn’t recover after shooting just nine percent in the first quarter and 22 percent heading into halftime.
“They missed some looks, but I thought our energy was great to start the game,” said Horford, who also had six assists. “Our guys were flying around and contesting.”
Down by 24 points in the second quarter, the Hornets closed the deficit to two points five minutes into the fourth quarter with 11 straight points, but the Hawks then went on a 13-2 streak to take command.
– Portland punishes Pacer defence –
Damian Lillard scored 33 points as the Portland Trail Blazers beat Indiana 111-102, becoming the latest team to feast on the Pacers’ inability to defend against the three pointer.
Guard Lillard tallied five three-pointers, and Portland used three-point shooting as the catalyst to win the 13th of their last 15 contests.
The Blazers made 14-of-24 shots from three-point range to sweep the two-game series with Indiana, which has lost three of its last four home games.
In the two wins against Indiana, Portland made 32 three-pointers.