Cavaliers End Losing Streak Behind Lebron’s 57-Point Barrage
Lebron James of the Cavaliers shoots over Wizards John Wall for two of his 57 points total for the night. Cleveland defeated Washington 130-122 during a game at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC on Friday, November 3, 2017. Robert Eubanks/DC Sports Box
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Hours after Bradley Beal declared that the Wizards are the best team in the Eastern Conference, Lebron James ensured he ate those words.
 
Finishing with a NBA season-high 57 points, James led the Cavaliers to a 130-122 win over the Wizards, snapping a four-game losing streak. James finished 23-of-34 from the field and made all 9 of his free throws to go along with 11 rebounds and 7 assists.

"We obviously witnessed one of the best players to ever play the game,” said Wizards Coach Scott Brooks. “…We tried everything. We tried everything. You got to pat him on the behind. Great game, amazing player. You got to move on to the next game."

Efficient throughout the game, James went to another level in the fourth quarter, leading all scorers with 19 points. After the Wizards went to a super small-ball line-up consisting of John Wall, Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and Jodie Meeks, with 7:37 left in the game, the Cavaliers ensured James got the ball on seemingly every possession. With no answer from the Wizards on defense, James scored 14 straight points for the Cavaliers to put the game away.

“Every shot that I took I felt like it was going in, even when they were highly contested,” said James. “I just had my eyes on the target.”

The game kicked off with almost no defense being played on either side, as both teams combined to shoot 72.1% from the field in the first quarter, the highest combined field goal percentage in any quarter of a game this season. The Cavaliers scored their highest point total of any quarter in the first and took an early 42-36 lead, a lead they would never relinquish.   

James and Derrick Rose frustrated the Wizards throughout the first half, finishing with a combined 42 points at the half, just three points shy of the Wizards’ starting five. Rose finished the game with 20 points for the Cavaliers.

Although Beal could not back up his comments from earlier in the day, he did lead the Wizards with 36 points. Wall added 13 points and 15 assists, his fourth double-double of the season.

After the game, James avoided Beal and Wall’s comments, saying, "I don't have a comment about that. I have so much more on my plate right now." However, Cavaliers Coach Tyronn Lue might have added more fuel to the fire, as he sarcastically quipped, “They're right: They are the best team in the East."

Defensive Identity:

According to NBA.com, the Wizards have the third most efficient offense in the NBA, but their defensive rating is amongst the ten worst in the NBA. After holding double digit leads against the Lakers, Warriors, and Suns, and ultimately losing the game, the Wizards know they need to improve on the defensive side of the ball.

Bradley Beal of the Wizards is bumped while going to the basket by JR Smith of the Cavaliers. Cleveland defeated Washington 130-122 during a game at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC on Friday, November 3, 2017. Robert Eubanks/DC Sports Box
“We have to pick it up. We have to pick it up. Something has to change if we want to continue to be great or head in that direction,” said Oubre. “We were doing a lot of self-evaluation [and] defense is one of the main things we need to focus on. It’s about effort and us just doing it.”

Wall added, “…We are a team that can score with the best of them, but that’s not our identity to try and outscore teams until we start playing defense like we have or that first quarter against Phoenix, there are going to be ups and downs.”

Beal believes that it is on the players to step up the defensive intensity throughout games.

“We competed our butts off and we lost three games that we thought we should have won – where we were up 10-plus, 15, 20 points. That’s on us players to keep that aggressiveness throughout the game,” said Beal.

The Return of Keef:


Markieff Morris saw his first action of the season, coming off his offseason sports hernia surgery and one-game suspension. The Wizards tried to get him involved early, getting him the ball on two of their first three possessions. Morris finished with 2 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in 16 minutes.

“I felt cool. I was just slow rolling right now, just trying to get back into a groove,” said Morris. When asked if he thought he would give the Wizards a better shot at covering James when he is back to 100 percent, Morris simply said, “Hell yeah!”

Injury Scare:

The Wizards got a scare late in the third quarter when Wall injured his left shoulder colliding with Channing Frye. Wall was in pain and stayed on the floor, leading to the Wizards calling a timeout. He remained in the game and helped in defending James.

“I shouldn’t have been out there, but I was trying to compete,” said Wall. “I told them to just give me some spray and try to play through it.”

After the game, Wall was seen with his shoulder in a sling.

“It’s on fire right now,” said Wall.

He has gotten x-rays on the shoulder and said he expects to get the results on Saturday.
 
Written by Hirdesh Matta