Cavaliers-Wizards Preview

The Associated Press

After climbing above the break-even mark earlier in the week, the Washington Wizards fell back to .500 despite a valiant effort last time out.

There weren't many positives to take away from the Cleveland Cavaliers' latest result, which was the final straw for owner Daniel Gilbert.

The Wizards try to hand the visiting Cavaliers a season-worst seventh consecutive loss Friday night.

While Washington (24-24) beat Portland 100-90 on Monday to move above .500 for the first time since 2009, it couldn't keep up in Wednesday's 125-118 double-overtime loss to San Antonio. The Wizards went up by as many as 17 in the first half before suffering their 16th straight loss to the Spurs, the NBA's longest active losing streak against one team.

John Wall was one of seven Wizards to score in double figures with 29 points, and Bradley Beal added 19. Beal, who was evaluated for a concussion during the game but allowed to return, didn't play in either extra period due to an ongoing minutes restriction stemming from a recent leg injury.

"We have to stay mentally tough and focus throughout the whole game and stick to our concepts on both ends of the floor," Beal said.

Despite the loss, the Wizards are 8-5 in their last 13 games, with two of those defeats coming in overtime. They are in much better shape than the Cavaliers (16-33), who have been outscored by an average of 15.5 points while giving up 110.8 per game during their skid.

Cleveland's woes continued with Wednesday's 119-108 loss to the short-handed Lakers, who entered with just eight available players. While Los Angeles lost two more to injury and saw Chris Kaman and Robert Sacre both foul out, Sacre was allowed to stay in the game as NBA rules require teams to have five players on the floor at all times.

That defeat was the final game for general manager Chris Grant, who was fired after 8 1/2 years with the team and replaced by vice president David Griffin on Thursday.

"This has been a very difficult period for the franchise. We have severely underperformed against expectations," Gilbert said in a statement. "I can assure everyone who supports and cares about the Cleveland Cavaliers that we will continue to turn over every stone and explore every possible opportunity for improvement to shift the momentum of our franchise in the right direction."

The Cavaliers were outscored 70-49 over the first two quarters, tied for their most points allowed in any half this season, and the Lakers shot 53.2 percent overall.

Luol Deng scored three points while shooting 1 of 10, and Kyrie Irving finished with 11 after getting benched with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter. Cleveland's reserves helped cut what was a 29-point deficit to six with 1:17 remaining.

"They definitely deserved to be on the floor," Irving said. "That second group did a heck of a job. You have to give a whole bunch of credit to them. If I were the coach, I would have played that second group as long as he did."

C.J. Miles scored a team-high 27 points, and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett added 14 - the third time in five games he's reached double figures, raising his season average to 3.3 points.

"Maybe we can learn something from what that group did on the floor," coach Mike Brown said. "They played the right way."

Cleveland had taken four straight from Washington before losing 98-91 on Nov. 20. Beal led the Wizards with 26 points and Nene added 24.

Irving, who scored 28 in that game, is averaging 31.0 points in his last four in this series.

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