Wizards visit Cavaliers in search of fourth straight win

The Washington Wizards still possess a losing record, but things are starting to trend upwards as far as their record is concerned.

The Wizards seek a season-high fourth straight win Saturday night when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are playing the back end of a back-to-back set at home.

Washington (11-14) is on its second three-game winning streak of the season. The Wizards also won three straight Nov. 10-14 as they tried to recover from a dreadful 2-9 start.

The Wizards first attempt at winning four straight was a 115-104 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets Nov. 16 and it was followed by a double-digit home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 18.

Since those losses, the Wizards are 6-3. It started with a comeback from 24 points down to beat the Los Angeles Clippers Nov. 20 and continued with Wednesday’s 131-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

On Wednesday, Washington improved its road record to 4-9 by beating the Hawks without John Wall. Wall sat out due to personal reasons and is expected to meet the team in Cleveland though whether he plays is unknown.

With Wall missing his first game, Austin Rivers started alongside Bradley Beal in the backcourt. Beal scored a season-high 36 points and during the last three games he is averaging 28.3 points.

Beal also had eight of Washington’s season-high 35 assists and it was the fourth time the Wizards collected 30 assists.

“It was great. This is how we need to play,” Beal told reporters. “We have to play fast and that was easier because we got stops defensively, we were able to get out in transition and get some easy ones. We just continued to move the ball and share it. Everybody was moving tonight and that is the way that we need to play every game.

During their last nine games, Washington’s offensive numbers are up.

The Wizards are averaging 115.1 points, shooting 47.3 percent and averaging 27.3 assists. In their first 16 games, the Wizards averaged 110.2 points, shot 45.3 percent and averaged 22.4 assists.

“(The ball movement) was good,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after Wednesday’s win “The last three or four games, we’ve been doing a much better job of moving the basketball and making shots.”

Lineup changes are also appearing to help Washington’s recent reversal. Thomas Bryant was inserted as the starting center nine games ago while Tomas Satoransky has started the last three games at power forward alongside Otto Porter Jr.

Bryant finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes Wednesday while Satoransky collected 14 points and seven assists in 38 minutes Wednesday.

One of the Wizards’ wins before this nine-game stretch was a 119-95 win over the Cavaliers Nov. 14 in Washington. That Wizards shot 47.8 percent and handed out 30 assists.

It also was on the second night of a back-to-back and Cleveland is 1-3 on the second night. The Cavs were 2-12 when they lost at Washington and are 3-8 since after allowing the Sacramento Kings to shoot 57.1 percent in a 129-110 loss on Friday.

In their latest loss, the Cavs allowed the Kings to make 10 of their first 12 shots, were outscored 63-44 in the second half and also lost Rodney Hood to a foot injury in the first half. Those things spoiled a night when Jordan Clarkson scored 26 points and rookie Collin Sexton added 23.

The Cavs will be facing the Wizards after making their second trade of the season. A little over a week after trading Kyle Korver to Utah for Alec Burks, the Cavaliers traded George Hill to Milwaukee for John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova while also landing three draft picks.

“We’re very pleased to bring Delly back to Cleveland and want to welcome John Henson as well,” Cleveland GM Koby Altman said in a statement. “This deal satisfied several important aspects for us in terms of having both long and shorter-term benefits and assets involved.”

Henson is averaging 5.6 points in 14 games but has missed the last eight games with a wrist injury. Dellavedova spent his first three seasons with Cleveland, signed with Milwaukee in 2016 in free agency and was averaging six points per game for the Bucks.

“I’m glad my Aussie brother’s back,” Cleveland center Tristan Thompson said. “He brings us veteran leadership, a guy that’s won before, a guy that’s going to push Collin, control the game for the second unit and he knows how to make shots.”

The Wizards were also involved in the trade as they acquired Sam Dekker from Cleveland and sent Jason Smith to Milwaukee.