The Washington Wizards’ early-season defensive deficiencies were on full display Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the team allowed 79 points less than halfway through the third quarter.
Washington stormed back, outscoring Cleveland 25-9 in the final 7:55 of the quarter to cut a 20-point deficit to four.
However, it wasn’t enough as Cleveland held on for a 113-110 victory before nearly 17,000 at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.
“I thought we played hard. I thought we attacked. We just have to keep playing,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks.
One major difference was the number of free throws. Cleveland shot 25-of-29, while Washington was only 3-for-6.
“We’re going to get the respect we deserve,” Brooks said. “Every time I’ve complained [to officials], they said they had the call right.”
Cleveland (3-5), which ranks near the bottom half of the league averaging 106 points per game, had seven players score in double figures.
Both Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love record double-doubles. Thompson led the Cavaliers with 21 and 12 rebounds. Love scored 16 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds.
Wizards center Thomas Bryant scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while guard Bradley Beal added 20 points and nine assists.
Troy Brown Jr., the Wizards’ first-round draft pick last year, started his first game Friday, scoring just three points in 19 minutes of action.
Troy McCrae played his second game of the season and scored two points in nine minutes of action.
An official called an offensive foul against McCrae with the Wizards trailing 95-90 with more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Brooks challenged the call, but it wasn’t overturned.
The Wizards (2-6) got no closer the rest of the game.
“I didn’t see it,” McCrae said of the call afterward. “The [foul called] happens 700 times every game. I just felt like at that moment … down five, it’s a tough call. It is what it is.”
Washington doesn’t play again until Wednesday against the Boston Celtics (6-1) to begin a three-game road trip.