CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers helped end another streak Sunday, and they did it as only they can.
The Washington Wizards,
0-25 on the road coming in, waltzed into Quicken Loans Arena and looked like they were the defending NBA champions while embarrassing hapless Cleveland 115-100.
Actually, the Cavs (9-46), who ended their NBA-record 26-game losing streak Friday in overtime against the Los Angeles Clippers, did a pretty good job of embarrassing themselves against Washington
(15-38), which had dropped nine of its last 10 games overall.
“Tell the truth,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “The bottom line is we played like you know what.”
The Cavs, who have just one two-game winning streak all season, that coming when they won three road games in five days from Nov. 5-9, trailed by 25 late in the first half and by that many again late in the third period.
The real defending NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, come to The Q on Wednesday for Cleveland’s last game before the All-Star break, so things figure to get worse before they get better.
“I’m still trying to figure them out,” Scott said of his players. “To me, that was ridiculous. Effort-wise, it just wasn’t there. It looked like we were sleepwalking through it.”
The Cavs didn’t wake up until they were getting blown out of the joint, but even then they managed to take a few naps in a game Washington led from start to finish.
The Wizards, who made 12 of their first 14 shots in racing to a 26-10 lead just 6:30 into the game, led by at least 10 points for the final 43:15.
“It’s all about what you have inside,” Scott said. “I don’t think there’s any way in the world we should be in that locker room thinking because we got a win over the Clippers, we’ve arrived or we’re better than everybody else. We’ve got to come out with a sense of urgency.”
It’s hard to pick a lowlight for the Cavs, but there are plenty from which to choose, especially on the defensive end.
A certain nominee would be Antawn Jamison’s effort — if it can be called that — on Andray Blatche (17 points, nine rebounds), who had nine points in the first 3:39.
Not to be outdone, Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson, who left the game with a strained quad in the second period, combined to hold Nick Young to 16 points in the first quarter. Young, who finished with 31, had 29 with 2:09 left in the third period.
Then there was Wizards rookie John Wall, who can’t shoot a lick but didn’t have to, as he raced past cement-footed Cleveland defenders for 19 points and 14 assists. After the Cavs scored with 4.8 seconds left in the second period, it took Wall 3.9 seconds to go end to end for an uncontested layup, completing a first half where he and Young outscored Cleveland’s starting backcourt of Mo Williams and Parker by a mere 33-2.
Josh Howard, who hadn’t played since Jan. 5 and was appearing in just his ninth game of the season, added a season-high 16 points, 13 of those coming in the second half.
“Our defense,” Scott said, “was pretty bad.”
The Cleveland offense, which committed six turnovers in the first 5:05 of the game, wasn’t anything to write home about, either.
J.J. Hickson finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but he was 0-for-8 from the field in the second quarter. His personal lowlight was a two-foot put-back attempt, which he shot about four feet over the rim. Honorable mention goes to the two shots the 6-foot-10 center had blocked by 6-4 Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich.
After playing great off the bench Friday against the Clippers in his first game back from a hip injury, Williams moved into the starting lineup and promptly went 3-for-9 from the field with a season-high seven turnovers.
Truly, though, this was a team effort: The Cavs actually had six shots on one second-quarter possession — and still failed to score.
It was that kind of evening, as Washington blocked 12 shots while ending the third-longest road losing streak to start a season in NBA history.
“It felt,” Wall said, “like Christmas.”
The one thing the Cavs did do well was shoot 3-pointers, which was the only reason it looked — at least for a moment — like they might stage an amazing comeback.
Behind Jamison (21 points) and Jamario Moon (12 points), who both made 4-of-6 from long range, Cleveland cut a 25-point deficit to 16 by hitting three 3-pointers in the last 1:48 of the third period.
The Cavs went on to make eight of their first 10 attempts from beyond the arc in the second half, allowing them to get within 102-91 with 7:20 to go.
That was as close as it got, as the Wizards quickly rebuilt their lead.
“It’s not just winning, it’s how we won,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said. “I thought we played well from beginning to end.”
The Cavs, as is so often the case, had a little something to do with that.
Contact Rick Noland at (330)721-4061 or email@example.com.
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