Okay. Let's just pretend that the Cavaliers never stopped in Washington, D.C. on their way down to Orlando for Friday night's game. After watching the Wizards dismantle the Cavs 109-101 it's not that hard to imagine the Cavs not showing up at all.
What the Cavs lacked in offensive efficiency they more than made up for with a complete lack of defensive intensity all night. And that was against a team that had won a total of 17 basketball games heading into Thursday night's game in the Verizon Center.
The Cavs sprinted out to a big lead against the Zephyrs/Wizards (nee Bullets) but they lacked the defensive pressure that has been a staple for most of the season. The Wizards caught the Cavs halfway through the first quarter and then took a 49-41 lead into halftime.
The Cavs roared back late in the fourth quarter and actually tied the game on a couple different occasions but they couldn't get the big shots to fall or big stops on the defensive end down the stretch when they needed them most.
LeBron James finished with 31 points after a slow start to lead the Cavs. James also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists as the Cavs win streak ended at 13. Mo Williams chipped in 19 points, six rebounds and five assists and Delonte West added 14 points and seven assists.
Washington got 25 and 19 from Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison respectively but Darius Songalia's 17 points and six rebounds were the big difference in the ballgame. Songalia easily outscored the Cavs' bench all by his lonesome.
Secondly, you could almost tolerate a loss (as distasteful as a loss to the Wizards is at any time) if the Cavs had given LBJ and the boys a night off or drastically reduced their minutes. You could at least rationalize that a greater good was being served if nothing else. Instead, not only did the Cavs get beaten by a bad basketball team and have their lead for HCA reduced by a game, but LBJ and the regulars also were forced into actually playing more minutes than Mike Brown and Cavalier fans would have liked to see them play in order to try and salvage the basketball game.
Not a good night in the nation's capital.
One can imagine Dwight Howard licking his lips in anticipation of Friday night's game as he drifts off to sleep.
With Daniel Gibson hit and mostly miss from the perimeter the Cavaliers need D West to be a viable threat from outside to fully exploit some match up problems they present to other squads and to fully take advantage of the open shots that LBJ and Mo Williams help create.
They Got Next
Choppy waters the next few days for the Wine & Gold.
They get Orlando tomorrow night in the land of Mickey Mouse and $6 bottles of water (8pm, ESPN) and then come back home in time to meet the Spurs at ‘The Q' on Sunday afternoon (1pm, ABC). Sweeping those two brutal games would be beautiful. But at least splitting them is absolutely critical.