WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Washington Wizards defended the homeland against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to capture a 108–91 win on Wednesday night in front of a packed and highly energized crowd at the Verizon Center.
The Cavs had not won on the Wizards' home court for two years. Thanks to a solid second half rally by the Wiz kids and foul trouble for the Cavs that included a slew of technical fouls in the fourth quarter, that record has now remained intact.
This was the second meeting of the two teams in regular season play. The first was at Cleveland where the Wizards suffered a 102–90 defeat. But they had beaten the Cavs in the 2009 preseason, and they proved they could do it again on Wednesday.
The win came from a total team effort that included highlight performances from Antawn Jamison (31 pts, 10 rebounds, 2 assists), Caron Butler (19 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist), Mike Miller (17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists), and Gilbert Arenas (18 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists).
The atmosphere was an intense mixture of boos and cheers; the boos came from occasional bad referee calls and every time LeBron James touched the ball. The cheers came from excellent, high intensity plays from the Wizards, and, ironically, every time after LeBron James made a shot.
Indeed, there was a love-hate thing going on surrounding LeBron, who had his usual solid performance with 34 points and 9 assists—including the best dunks of the night—but when push came to shove, the loyalty of the Wizards fans stayed true.
Shaquille O’Neal was unfortunately out with injury to the dismay of many fans.
The Wizards got off to a groggy start against the Cavs, going down by 10 after the first quarter due to a stellar shooting performance by Cavs big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Jamison held the Wizards together with 13 points.
But both LeBron and guard Mo Williams were cold for the first half. LeBron was double-teamed from the moment he touched the ball and the pressure worked well.
LeBron is LeBron, though, and he managed to pull off a number of plays that brought the crowd to a frenzy, including a turn-around dunk in the first quarter. He finished the half with 13 points but Jamison had 21.
The Wizards continued the rally in the third quarter with Miller giving the team the first lead of the night at 54–53 with a tip-in from a missed layup by Arenas after a steal from Mo. The Cavs were forced to call a time out.
From then on it was a neck-and-neck quarter. LeBron stuck three three-pointers to come out of his low-scoring slump, but the Wizards calmed the tempo and Miller hit a three to tie the game at 67 with two minutes to go.
Shortly after that the Wizards took the lead again, but LeBron answered with an explosive pass to Jamario Moon for a flying dunk.
The Wizards pulled away in the fourth quarter after the Cavs got into foul trouble and LeBron picked up his fourth personal foul including a technical.
The small statured Earl Boykins had a break-away fourth quarter against Mo and scored nine points to bring the crowd to their feet. Mo was ice cold for the night with only six points.
Once again the Cavs appeared too reliant on LeBron James and failed to get even distribution from the team.