Beal, Nene lead Wizards past Cavaliers 98-91
CLEVELAND (AP) - The Washington Wizards are finally getting some answers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are still looking for solutions.
Bradley Beal scored 26 points and Nene added 24, leading the Wizards to a 98-91 win on Wednesday night as Cleveland's comeback from a 27-point deficit fell short.
Washington, which broke a four-game losing streak on Tuesday, took control in the first quarter and appeared to be on their way to an easy win.
The Wizards were ahead 56-38 at halftime, and pushed the margin to 27 points in the third quarter before the Cavaliers finally woke up.
Cleveland trailed 86-71 midway through the fourth before Kyrie Irving scored 11 straight points to cut the deficit to four points with 2:56 remaining. The Cavaliers got no closer, however, and lost for the fourth time in five games.
"It was rocky, but you can expect things like that in any NBA game," Beal said. "We played well for 40 minutes, but we went away from our principles after that. Cleveland did a nice job getting back in it. Fortunately, we pulled it back together before the end."
Irving scored 18 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, but that wasn't enough.
"We had to make them uncomfortable from the start of the game, not from the end of the third quarter," he said.
Marcin Gortat's two free throws with 1:16 left extended the lead to 92-86, and Beal added two free throws with 32.8 seconds remaining to put the game away.
John Wall and Martell Webster both scored 15 points for Washington, which has won two straight for the second time this season. The Wizards held a players' meeting Tuesday, which has paid off in the short run.
"That's how you get in position to make the playoffs," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "You're tired, you get in late, but you make that effort to win the game from the start."
The Cavaliers beat the Wizards in overtime on Saturday when Irving matched his career high with 41 points.
Cleveland's players held a meeting after last week's 29-point loss to Minnesota. The meeting reportedly got heated, but several players said no punches were thrown. The Cavaliers weren't able to sustain their momentum from Saturday's win, which has led to more uncertainty.
"I have to find guys who are going to go out there and give it to me," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "It's a concern for anybody when you don't go out there and compete and play hard."
"We don't play hard enough," guard Jarrett Jack said. "It's the effort. It's the one thing you can control. Nobody should have to ask anybody to play hard. If we don't come out here and do our job, this is the kind of result we'll get."
Shooting guard Dion Waiters, who missed the next two games with the flu, returned to practice Monday, but lost his starting job to C.J. Miles while he was gone.
Brown said before the game he was pleased with his new lineup, but the switch lasted less than three minutes when Miles left the game with a strained right calf and was taken to the locker room. Waiters entered the game with 9:27 left in the first quarter.
Waiters scored 11 points in 31 minutes. Jack and Anderson Varejao both scored 14.
Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the draft, entered the game to begin the fourth quarter with the Cavaliers trailing 80-59. Bennett, who is 5 for 37 from the field, shot an air ball on a 3-point attempt.
Cleveland center Andrew Bynum, who said earlier this month he is considering retirement as he comes back from surgery on both knees, scored two points and had one rebound in 12 minutes.
NOTES: The Wizards broke a four-game losing streak against the Cavaliers. ... Cleveland C Tyler Zeller (sprained right ankle) was inactive. ... F Trevor Ariza (strained right hamstring) and F Al Harrington (sore right knee) missed the game for Washington. ... Cleveland, which is 1-6 on the road, plays at New Orleans on Friday and at San Antonio on Saturday. ... Wall had nine assists after tying his career high with 16 on Tuesday.