Nov 20, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown congratulates point guard Kyrie Irving (2) during a time out against the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports

Instant Reaction: Washington Wizards 98, Cleveland Cavaliers 91

Final Outcome:

After battling double-digit deficits all night long in a resilient overtime victory in the nation’s capital over the Washington Wizards (4-7) this past Saturday, the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-8) returned home for the second leg of an away-home series with the Wiz. In front of a Wine & Gold crowd hoping to embrace a team turning over a new leaf after a players-only meeting, the Cavs laid out a red carpet for the Wizards in the paint, allowing 16 first quarter interior points. But wait! The Cavaliers had some fight in them in the fourth after being kept down double digits after the first quarter, and if this team proved anything from last season, the course of a game can be changed within a 12-minute window, no matter how big a lead. But it was too little too late for Cleveland, as they came up short at home for the second straight contest by a score of 98-91.

Key Play to the Game:

O.K., so I lambasted Matthew Dellavedova and Mike Brown after he played the Aussie for a significant amount of minutes in the fourth quarter in Saturday’s win against the Wiz. I didn’t think Dellavedova made that big of a difference on defense to make up for his lack of offensive output for Brown to justify putting him in. But boy did he bring it in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night. If every player donning the Wine & Gold brought that fire and energy from the get-go, Washington would have been buried by 20+, no doubt. This team has shown flashes that they can operate as a functional NBA unit this season, but that’s about it. Earl Clark’s loose ball foul on Marcin Gortat with just over a minute to go in the contest killed the offensive push for the Cavaliers and allowed Washington to jump out to a six-point lead. A Kyrie Irving travel on the ensuing Cleveland possession consequently sealed Cleveland’s fate.

Wine & Gold MVP:

PG Kyrie Irving’s offense and SG Matthew Dellavedova’s defense – So Kyrie (again) decided to show up in his entirety in the fourth quarter. He racked up 13 points, working hand-in-hand with Delly. Even with C.J. Miles out with an injury that he suffered in the first quarter, Brown still opted to go with Dellavedova with Dion Waiters on the bench. The 13-2 run that Cleveland (Kyrie) went on helped the Cavaliers climb within four points of the Wizards with two minutes to go in the game. Kyrie scored 18 of his 28 points on the night in this frame, proving once again that Cleveland needs to play with this same sense of fourth quarter urgency for 48 minutes. It’s nice to be able to see fight in the fourth from the Cavs, but it needs to happen in situations that matter in terms of tasting victory.

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Coach Brown Breakdown:

As I mentioned in the Key Play to the Game section, I applaud Brown’s resilience in trusting Dellavedova’s defense down the stretch in a game that looked out of reach. He could have put Waiters in, but he was struggling in his first game back, shooting 2-of-13 from the field. Because of Miles’ injury, Delly played 27 minutes and Waiters was in for 30. Coach Brown had a very difficult situation to deal with regarding the shooting guard position in this game, and when the Cavaliers looked the best, it was because of his decisions in his backcourt pairings. Brown now needs to get his men focused and disciplined enough to play four quarters of basketball.

Up Next:

The Cavaliers will travel down south to face off against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans (4-6) on Friday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at New Orleans Arena. This will be the first of two matchups between the Pelicans and Cavaliers this season. The recently ignited Ryan Anderson, teamed with Davis, will pose a difficult matchup for the Cavaliers, who have struggled to protect both the rim and sharp shooters thus far.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Matthew Dellavedova

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