The Washington Wizards improved their win streak to five straight Wednesday in a 96-85 road victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. John Wall scored 12 of his game-high 21 points and dished 6 of his game-high 13 assists during a pivotal third quarter stretch which all but gave Washington the “W.” Rookie D.J. Kennedy led the Cavs in defeat with 12 points off the bench.
While Cleveland had little left to fight for after Wall’s big third quarter, the starting duo of former Wizards forward Antawn Jamison and rookie sensation Kyrie Irving clocked 16:52 minutes and 9:47 minutes respectively. Not to discredit Wall’s video game-like stat line of 21 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds, and 7 steals line in 32 and a half minutes played, but it’s fair to accuse the Cavs of tanking.
A Tuesday night victory for the New Orleans Hornets locked Washington at 29th in the NBA with no where left to go, which meant they could win their final two games–last night at Cleveland and tonight’s home game versus the Miami Heat–without consequence. But the Hornets win gave New Orleans the same amount of wins as the Cavs–21. That put pressure on Cleveland to tank, because there are currently five teams battling for those third and fourth spots in the standings:
New Jersey Nets 22-43
Toronto Raptors 22-43
Cleveland Cavaliers 21-44
Sacramento Kings 21-44
New Orleans Hornets 21-44
Cleveland’s tanking aside, the Wizards needed someone to step up Wednesday due to the absence of shooting guard Jordan Crawford. Crawford played through an ankle tweak since Saturday’s outing in Miami and the team decided to rest their sophomore guard to prevent further strain. Wall’s big line is a reflection of the absence of Crawford in addition to any tanking theories, as Crawford’s replacement, Cartier Martin, scored only 7 points in a starting role. Shelvin Mack and Mo Evans helped Washington survive the first half as the duo provided a second quarter boost while Chris Singleton found a few extra shot opportunities without Crawford hogging the lion’s share. The rook ended up with 10 points in his ninth double-digit scoring night of the season.
While Singleton has struggled to get his, teammate Kevin Seraphin, who scored 12 points last night, is now on a 15-game double-digit scoring streak. Wall’s double-double line was his fourth in a row, a career-record for the second year guard.
The Wizards will host the Miami Heat tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET which will end Washington’s 66-game season. Thank you for following the action with me and here’s to a potential six-game streak next fall (and a Nene, Anthony Davis front line–Grunfeld willing).