The Cavs are in first place in the Central Division after their second win in a row on the road last night in Washington. A Cavaliers team had not won in DC since 2007 but Daniel Gibson and Mo Williams put on a show in the 4th quarter to lead them past John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. Even though they were never ahead by a substantial margin as had been the case in Philly the night prior, the Cavs led for most of the evening but once again were forced to take control in the final 5 minutes of the game after another brutal 3rd quarter.
This road trip serves as the unofficial beginning of the season for Mo and he is quickly adapting to his role as primary scorer on this team. He has always seemed to have big nights at the Verizon Center, whether it be with the Bucks or Cavaliers. Williams finished with a game high 28 points and controlled the pace for the entire game. For the second night in a row, he crossed the 20 point mark largely by penetrating and getting to the free throw line as opposed to getting hot from 3. It was rare to see him score that much while not doing damage from beyond the arc.
A monumental swing in the game came on a 4 point possession when Andy snagged an offensive rebound off of a JJ free throw miss and found Anthony Parker in the corner for three. Javale McGee’s failure to box out on the free throw swung the game right there and although Andy did not approach perfection as he had against the Sixers, he was right in the middle of this most important possession with the Cavs down 5.
Daniel Gibson combined with Mo to control the game, especially in the final 5 minutes when the Cavs found themselves down 90 to 85. Mo would put the Cavs up for good with 2 minutes to go when he sank two free throws to make it 97-95. Boobie nailed his second three of the game on the subsequent possession which served as the final dagger. The possession took nearly the entire shot clock and resulted in a 5 point lead and gooseys coming from all the bench.
The Wizards called timeout, wasted the entire shot clock which led to Kirk Hinrich launching a 38 foot heave, and then failed to close out on Mo who hit his first 3 of the game to put the Cavs up 8 to add to the lead. I can’t imagine that’s what Flip Saunders had planned during that timeout. In addition, his puzzling decision to leave leading scorer Al Thornton on the bench in the 4th quarter had Wiz fans particularly frustrated. I found the most exciting points in the game for the Wizards to be the final possessions of each quarter and watching John Wall casually go the length of the floor and get to the rim in under 4 seconds on two occasions. It was amazing to watch.
I attended the game with our old friend Denny along with what was a great turnout of Cavs fans in DC. The Cavs fans were loud and treated to an exciting win. I was really impressed with the amount of Cavs apparel I saw in and around the Verizon Center all night. It’s extremely rewarding to see this team grind it out this weekend. Andy, Boobie, and Mo all seem to be enjoying themselves and enjoying the leadership roles that they now possess.
The team continues to have great camaraderie and Coach Scott’s fast pace of play is taking hold as the Cavs offense exploded all weekend. While JJ had an off night, Ryan Hollins, who looks to be in close competition with him for worst hands on the team, stepped up off the bench and went 5 for 5 with 11 points. There were contributions from a wide range all weekend as the Cavs got back to .500. The encouraging weekend resulted in this tweet from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, “CavsFans, How do U like toughness, grit, conditioning & team play of these men? B2B road wins. 1st place. More excited than ever. How bout U”
The Cavs will be in New Jersey to take on the Nets on Tuesday as they look to win their third game in a row on the road and continue atop the Central.