CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers coach Byron Scott didn't waste any time on Tuesday.
Haunted by horrible third quarters almost all season, when the Wizards jumped out to an 11-0 lead just 2:06 into the game, he benched four starters.
The proactive move might have saved the Cavs, who regrouped and held off the Washington Wizards, 95-90, before an announced crowd 14,689 at Quicken Loans Arena.
"I was very upset," said Cavs guard Dion Waiters, who scored 12 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. "There was no energy. I respect what he did. At the same time, I was mad.
"When I got back in the game, I knew what to do: Just play hard. You can't come out there nonchalant. We're not good enough to do that."
Scott has been facing some criticism for allowing the third quarters to go awry. He didn't waste any time on Tuesday.
When the Wizards jumped out to an 11-0 lead on forward Martell Webster's third 3-point goal, Scott had seen enough. He yanked Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Waiters from the game.
"They didn't want to play, so I took them out," Scott said. "I was going to do the same thing in the third quarter. My patience ran thin. I was tired of what I was seeing."
The Cavs (22-42) shot just 30.8 percent in the first quarter and trailed, 33-20. They were playing without point guard Kyrie Irving, who is expected to miss three or four weeks with a sprained left shoulder.
The Cavs blitzed the Wizards in the third quarter, 30-16. They took the lead for good on Gee's 3-point goal with 9:26 left in the third quarter, 57-56.
With the game on the line, the Cavs tried to give it back to Washington (20-42), but it wouldn't take it.
"We still had some big mistakes down at the end," Scott said. "It was not a clean game."
There were no problems in the third quarter on Tuesday. They outscored the Wizards, 26-16.
"We didn't want to get pulled again," Waiters said. "We wanted to come out with a sense of urgency."
Waiters made 5 of 13 shots from the field, but 10 of 14 from the foul line.
"Coach told me to keep attacking," he said. "You live for the moment. If it's knocking down free throws or hitting big-time shots, those are moments you want to be in."
Wizards point guard John Wall put up monster numbers in a losing cause. He erupted for a game-high 27 points, seven rebounds and a game-high 13 assists.
Webster, 5 of 11 from behind the arc, added 17 points. Emeka Okafor and Nene each had double-doubles for the Wizards. Okafor had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Nene added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"We stopped running," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "For whatever reason, we've been doing this quite a bit. We're not a team that wants to walk the ball up, especially on misses."
Gee finished with 17 points and was one of six players in double figures. Thompson recorded his 24th double-double with 13 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and one block.
"Coach got our attention (by yanking them out of the game)," Thompson said. "You have to come out and fight like men. It woke us up.
"We've been talking about the third quarter all year. It's been our Achilles' heel. The starters took that as a challenge. Coach challenged us."
Veteran Shaun Livingston, who has replaced Irving in the starting lineup, had 12 points, three rebounds, a team-high six assists and one steal. He was 6 of 9 from the field.
The Cavs swept the three-game season series over the Wizards.
Waiters connected on four free throws in the last 13.1 seconds to ice the contest for the Cavs.
The Cavs held Washington to 40.8 percent shooting from the field. They also outrebounded the Wizards, 48-46. That included 14 offensive rebounds, six by Thompson.
NOTES: Cavs coach Byron Scott calls John Wall a one-man fastbreak. "We have to make him a jump shooter," he said. "He's not a great shooter." The Wizards are 15-14 since Wall has been back in the lineup. "Health plays a big role in that," Wittman said. "Early in the year, we were beat up." Shaun Livingston was a former teammate of Wall's. "He's one of the most athletic guards we have in our league," he said. "He's a game-changer." ... The Wizards weren't a match made in heaven for Livingston. He appeared in 17 games with the Wizards this season before he found himself on the waiver wire. "I knew that wasn't the best place for me," he said. "It's one of the worst spots I've been in my career." Livingston said it was a "godsend" when he was claimed on waivers by the Cavaliers on Christmas Day. He has now moved into the starting lineup in place of Kyrie Irving, who's wearing a sling on his left arm. "I'm a structure guy," he said. "It was moreso a lack of structure from an organizational standpoint. It wasn't the most beneficiary system for me. For other guys, it is. It wasn't the best fit for me." ... In Cavs forward Luke Walton's last 17 games, he's averaged 4.7 assists. "I think he's the best passing forward in the league," Scott said. Scott seemed to forget Heat forward LeBron James, who is 10th in the NBA with 7.1 assists per game. ... Cavs forward Omri Casspi has gotten the medical clearance for full activity. He was in uniform and on the active list on Tuesday. ... Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal missed his third consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. Garrett Temple, who played for the Cavs' summer-league team last year, started at shooting guard.