Cavaliers and Wizards face similar situations
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards entered Saturday on six-game losing streaks.
While the Cavaliers ended their skid with a surprising victory, the Wizards could be even more frustrated after coach Randy Wittman failed in his effort to get ejected from his club’s latest loss.
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The Eastern Conference’s worst teams meet for the first time since the season opener Wednesday night in Washington.
Cleveland (6-23) will search for its first set of consecutive victories after winning 94-82 at Milwaukee on Saturday. Rookie Dion Waiters scored 18 points and backcourt mate Kyrie Irving added 15 as the Cavaliers never trailed and led by as many as 20.
“We came in with the mindset that we are going to compete for 48 minutes,” Irving said. “Once we go out there and perform the way we do, it all speaks for itself.”
Washington (3-22) fell 96-87 at home to Detroit on Saturday. Wittman said he intentionally got a technical foul midway through the first quarter with his team in the midst of missing 14 of its first 15 shots, and was hoping to receive a second.
“I’ve been trying to get thrown out for a while. These guys won’t even throw me out,” Wittman said.
Washington fell behind by 19 points at halftime Saturday after doing the same in a 100-68 road defeat to the lowly Pistons one night earlier.
“Our problem is getting off to slow starts and just digging us some holes,” guard Jordan Crawford said. “We’ve been doing it consistently for a couple weeks now so gotta work on that.”
The Wizards could catch a break if Cavaliers starting center Anderson Varejao misses a fourth straight game with a bruised right knee. Varejao leads the league with 14.4 rebounds per game.
Varejao nearly had a triple-double the last time these teams met with nine points and career highs of 23 rebounds and nine assists in Cleveland’s 94-84 home victory Oct. 30.
That contest also showcased the talents of the Cavs’ young backcourt. Second-year guard Irving scored 29 points and Waiters added 17 in his first game as a pro.
Waiters missed eight games earlier this month because of a sprained left ankle, and Saturday’s effort was his best in the four since he returned.
He would rank second among rookies in scoring with 14.7 points per game but has not played enough games to qualify. Washington’s Bradley Beal – selected one pick before Waiters at No. 3 – holds that position instead with an average of 12.5 points.
Beal missed two games with an injured back before returning Saturday with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, although he said he struggled with his lateral movement.
“I know I couldn’t do a lot of things I wanted to,” Beal said. “A lot of times I gave up a lot of baskets and stuff I shouldn’t have done on both ends of the floor. I battled the best I could.”
Cleveland will see a different Washington forward tandem than it faced in the opener. Wizards forwards Trevor Ariza (strained calf) and Trevor Booker (knee) are both out.