Irving scores 41, lifts Cavs to OT win

Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The matchup between two skidding teams overshadowed the anticipated battle between point guards drafted No. 1 overall. That is until Kyrie Irving scored like a headliner.
Irving matched his career high with 41 points, including nine in overtime, as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied for their first road win of the season, a 103-96 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.
Facing Wizards guard John Wall, Irving made 14 of 28 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, as the Cavaliers (4-7) snapped a three-game losing streak.
Cleveland entered 0-6 on the road and amid reports of a contentious team meeting earlier in the week. Adding to the chaotic scenario, the Cavs trailed 40-25 in the first half.
"We're down 15. We could have easily quit," said a deliriously happy Cavs coach Mike Brown, who laughed with glee throughout his postgame session. "We're kind of discombobulated. ... Not one unit out there knew anything that we were doing. I didn't know what we were doing. We just kind of made it up on the fly."
Then Irving, the No. 1 pick in 2011, stood up offensively and vocally. Brown praised his young guard's leadership in team huddles.
"Just telling them that our offensive game is going to take care of itself throughout the game," said Irving, who had five assists and made all nine of his free throws. "Start on the defensive end -- we had to pick up our aggressiveness."
He certainly did with the ball in his hands. After scoring only two points in the first quarter, Irving had 15 points in the second quarter, including three straight 3-pointers in the final 89 seconds before halftime. Though he turned the ball over with the score tied in the final seconds of regulation, Irving outscored the Wizards 9-6 in overtime.
"He made a couple of tough shots and then he was getting into the rhythm where he was getting to the basket and getting to the free throw line," said Wall, who finished with 12 assists and nine points. "Once a guy who can shoot the ball very well gets into a rhythm, it's hard to stop him."
Forward Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 12 rebounds, guard Jarrett Jack scored 13 and forward Earl Clark added 11 for Cleveland, winner of four straight over the Wizards (2-7).
Guard Bradley Beal had 28 points and forward Nene 24 for the Wizards. Wall had 12 assists and nine points, and center Gortat added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams entered the first of four matchups this season with three-game losing streaks and potential locker room issues.
The Wizards held a meeting on Friday with selected players, including Wall and Beal, after Nene publicly expressed concern about "our young guys" following Wednesday's 92-79 loss at San Antonio. Washington fell apart offensively after trimming the Spurs' lead to three in the second half.
Against Cleveland, the Wizards made just 10 for 29 from the field in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Cavaliers made 10 of 21 3-point shots and the Wizards finished 6 of 25 from beyond the arc.
Undrafted rookie guard Matthew Dellavadova scored two points in 32 minutes for the Cavaliers, but both Brown and Irving cited his defensive presence as crucial.
The lead changed repeatedly in the fourth quarter -- four times in the final 78 seconds of regulation.
Nene split two free throws, tying the score at 90 with 23.7 seconds on the clock. Irving held for a final shot but never got one up as Nene knocked the ball away on an attempted drive with one second remaining. Washington's final shot did not reach the basket.
After Gortat scored the first basket in overtime, giving Washington a 92-90 lead, Irving scored the next seven points -- capped by a 3-pointer with 3:04 remaining for a 97-92 lead.
"It's just about making plays down the stretch," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We got to make plays where you got confidence you can do it. It didn't feel that way."
After sitting the previous two games, Cavs center Andrew Bynum made his second start of the season and scored six points in 21 minutes.
Led by Beal's 16 points, Wall's eight assists -- and Cleveland's 13 turnovers -- Washington jumped out to a 40-25 lead with 6:19 remaining in the second quarter.
Irving's scoring burst sent the Cavaliers into the halftime locker room down 49-44 and he put Cleveland up 56-53 with 7:15 remaining in the third quarter after consecutive baskets before the crowd of 18,038.
NOTES: Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 draft, and John Wall, the first player picked in 2010, played in the same NBA game for the first time since April 25, 2012. Injuries kept the point guards off the court in three meetings last season. ... G Dion Waiters (illness) did not play in Friday's loss to Charlotte and didn't make the trip to Washington. Cavaliers F Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, did not play for the second time this season. ... Wizards F Trevor Ariza did not play. He is considered day to day after straining his right hamstring in Wednesday's loss to the San Antonio Spurs. ... Washington hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday before heading to Cleveland on Wednesday for the Cavaliers' next game.

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