Cavaliers-Wizards Preview

The Associated Press

After a trio of losses to a few of the best teams in the Western Conference, a matchup against another struggling Eastern squad may be just what the Washington Wizards need.

A game against the slumping Cleveland Cavaliers, however, could pose a much tougher task with Andrew Bynum returning.

The Wizards return home following a winless western swing to meet the Cavaliers on Saturday night.

Cleveland has played its last two games without Bynum, who was excused by the team to address a family medical matter. Bynum, who missed all of last season with Philadelphia because of knee problems, has played limited minutes in six games this season.

Bynum, though, made his only start in his last appearance - Monday at Chicago - and had season highs of 11 points and six rebounds.

Washington (2-6) won its second straight game last Friday, 112-108 in overtime over Brooklyn, before hitting the road to face Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio.

The Wizards came awfully close in Sunday's 106-105 loss to the Thunder, who trailed by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter and needed a tying 3-pointer from Kevin Durant late in regulation to push the game into overtime.

The hard-fought contest took a toll on Washington, which went on to lose to the Mavericks by 10 on Tuesday before the Spurs pulled away for a 92-79 win a night later.

The Wizards trailed by double digits in San Antonio from early in the second quarter before pulling to 60-57 with 3:27 left in the third. It was as close as they would get.

"After 60-57, we came down and took six of the worst shots you could possibly take," coach Randy Wittman said. "Six. It might be more after I look at the film. Zero or one pass. All of a sudden, we're going to play hero. We can't do that. We don't have a hero here. We got to play with five guys."

Making matters worse was a right hamstring injury to starting small forward Trevor Ariza, who is likely out against Cleveland after playing just 17 minutes versus San Antonio. He had an MRI on Thursday, but the damage does not appear to be long-term.

"I felt like a little pop," Ariza said. "It didn't feel the same."

Ariza will likely be replaced in the lineup by Martell Webster, who is averaging 10.0 points but stepped up with 21 against the Spurs.

John Wall also left after being raked across his face by Jeff Ayres under the basket. Wall's right eye was puffy following the game, but he's expected to play Saturday.

Wall struggled during the road trip, hitting 13 of his 42 field-goal attempts - 3 of 11 from 3-point range - for an average of 12.7 points. He averaged 19.6 through the first five games.

The Cavaliers (3-7) lost for the first time in four home games with an 86-80 defeat to Charlotte on Friday that extended their overall slide to three.

All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, wearing a mask to protect a nasal fracture, had 18 points and 10 assists for Cleveland. Irving was elbowed in the face by Minnesota's Corey Brewer on Wednesday.

"The mask was awful, but I've got to play through it," said Irving, who was 5 of 16 from the field. "Hopefully, it will help me shoot better."

Cleveland has won its last three matchups with Washington after the teams split the previous 10.

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