CLEVELAND (AP)Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks wanted his players to embrace the adversity they faced going into Thursday night.
They certainly listened.
Bradley Beal scored 36 points and the weary Wizards, overcoming an overtime loss and early morning arrival in town, defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-112.
The Wizards started slowly following a long flight after an OT defeat in Miami on Wednesday, but took over late in the first quarter and pulled away.
”My analytics guy tells me we’re 1-0 when we get in after 4 (a.m.),” Brooks said. ”We played about as hard as you can play last night and we did it again tonight. It wasn’t easy. I’m tired and I was just coaching.”
Beal was 15 of 22 from the field and had eight assists in 29 minutes. The Wizards guard scored 38 points against Miami and is 31 of 46 from the field in the last two games.
”That’s one thing Coach Brooks and I say a lot, your stats are going to level out at the end of the year,” Beal said. ”Shots will fall, shots won’t fall, but everything will level out in the end. I know I’m a good shooter.”
Cleveland has lost six in a row and 11 of 13. The Cavaliers were coming off a 20-point home loss to New York on Monday and struggled against the Wizards, who are also at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Love, who scored 21 points, believes the Cavaliers should be better as a group. Cleveland hasn’t won since a surprising victory at Denver on Jan. 11.
”Games like tonight and the last game against the Knicks, we feel like those are teams we should have a very good chance to compete with and win,” Love said. ”Obviously, there are teams like Denver that we can beat on any given night, but we feel like we when we put it together we should be able to win games like tonight.”
Washington shot 55% and hit 16 of 36 3-pointers. Davis Bertans and Ish Smith each scored 17 points, while Isaiah Thomas had 13 for the Wizards.
Collin Sexton scored 29 points for Cleveland. Larry Nance Jr. had 22.
The Cavaliers led 18-6 before the Wizards took control, thanks to Beal and Bertans, and built a 40-26 lead. The offense didn’t slow down after halftime. Beal had 11 points in the third quarter and the Wizards opened a 98-78 cushion.
Wizards: Brooks, with several starters on minutes limits, used 11 players in the first half. … Washington had lost five straight on the road. … C Anzejs Pasecniks, who missed two games with a sprained left ankle, played 16 minutes and scored four points.
Cavaliers: There’s no timetable for the return of C Ante Zizic, who is experiencing dizziness and other vertigo-like symptoms. ”Hopefully he’ll start the progress of getting back on the court, but I don’t expect him soon,” coach John Beilein said. … F Alfonso McKinnie was signed to a second 10-day contract.
Beal was grateful to hear that he finished second in player voting among East guards for the All-Star Game,.
”It’s cool. Definitely shows respect, for sure,” he said. ”I always feel the players and coaches should have a higher percentage of the voting. Because we know who’s good. We know who’s an All-Star.”
Love, the subject of trade speculation all season, could be moved before the Feb. 6 deadline.
”I’ll be happy if I’m still here,” he said. ”I fully plan to continue to help these guys, continue to help with Tristan (Thompson) and myself and Larry and being a leader, all the veterans. This place, Cleveland, the fans have been really, really good to me.”
MARK THE DATE
New Orleans rookie Zion Williamson, who made his regular-season debut Wednesday, and the Pelicans will play in Cleveland on Jan. 28. A billboard showing Williamson and Cavaliers rookie Darius Garland is featured outside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
”l’ll be watching him real soon,” said Beilein, who didn’t see the Pelicans’ game against San Antonio. ”All of the hype surrounding him is great and it’s good for the league. I know people will be excited when he comes here next week.”
Wizards: Visit Atlanta on Sunday, the third stop on Washington’s four-game road trip.
Cavaliers: Host Chicago on Saturday. The teams have split their first two meetings this season.
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