CLEVELAND — First the disclaimer: Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison and Joey Graham, who could all be in the starting lineup when the regular season begins, did not play.
That said, the Cavaliers’ offensive development came to a screeching halt Thursday night, as they lost 97-83 to the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena.
After shooting .364 from the field in winning their preseason opener, the Cavs managed to take that down another notch in hitting .353 (30-of-85) against the Wizards. It was actually much worse for most of the game, as Cleveland had 53 points through three periods, at which time it was 19-of-66 from the field (.288).
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“Guys are a little tired,” said Cavs coach Byron Scott, who will give his players their first day off today. “When you get tired, oxygen all of a sudden doesn’t go to the brain. When it doesn’t go to the brain, all of a sudden you don’t think too well.”
The Cavs had brain-lock on more than a few occasions. Not only did they fail to make shots, they often didn’t even manage to get one up, as they committed a whopping 26 turnovers that led to 27 Washington points.
A rather large handful of those turnovers came in their own backcourt, leading to numerous easy buckets for the Wizards, or simply while attempting to initiate their Princeton offense, which was barely up to Ivy League standards on this night.
“We’ve only been at this a little over a week,” Scott said. “It’s still a work in progress.
“I still feel OK about the offense,” he added. “We just have way too many guys right now who are a little flustered.” The Cavs started Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker at guard, Jamario Moon and J.J. Hickson at forward and Ryan Hollins at center. Only Parker and Hollins started the exhibition opener.
Cleveland’s second unit consisted of Jawad Williams, Leon Powe, Samardo Samuels, Danny Green and Ramon Sessions, with a little bit of Christian Eyenga mixed in.
For the second straight game, the Cavs’ best player was Hickson, who went just 4-of-12 from the field but made 8-of-10 free throws en route to 16 points and eight boards. Hickson, who made one jumper and clanged a number of others, has now attempted 20 free throws in two exhibition games.
Gibson started out OK, but wound up with 10 points on 4of-12 shooting. He also had just one assist in 24 minutes while playing almost exclusively point guard.
The long-armed, 7-foot Hollins was a monster on the glass with 14 rebounds, but that was more than offset by poor shooting nights by Parker (1-of-7), Williams (3-of-10) and Sessions (4-of-12), who did finish with 10 points, 10 boards and six assists.
“We’re still in the crawling stage,” Scott said. “It’s still a process.”
The Wizards went small, starting guards John Wall, Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas along with power forward Andray Blatche and center JaVale McGee.
Wall, the No. 1 pick in the draft, started miserably, missing his first nine shots before finally scoring with 3:15 left in the third period. The Kentucky product caught fire after that, making five of his last seven to finish with 12 points and nine assists.
“He’s pretty quick,” Scott said. “When he gets into the open floor, he’s a blur.”
The best player on the floor was Washington’s Yi Jianlian, who made seven of 11 shots while finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. The worst was Cleveland’s Danny Green, who is in severe danger of playing himself out of the league after his second straight bad game. Green had three turnovers in 19 minutes and played timidly throughout.
Varejao, who has yet to go through a regular practice, was back at the Cavs’ morning shootaround after missing nine days due to the death of his grandfather, but did not play against the Wizards.
“I thought it would take him a week or two (to catch up), to be honest with you, but watching him this morning, he looked pretty good,” Scott said. “He obviously has a high basketball IQ, so I don’t think it’s going to take him as long as I thought.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.