The Washington Wizards, whose National Basketball Association playoff hopes ended early in a disappointing season, gave a glimpse of what might have been in a 109-101 victory over Cleveland on Thursday.
With Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood finally both in the lineup after injury-marred seasons, the Wizards ended the Cavaliers’ franchise record winning streak at 13 games.
Cavaliers superstar LeBron James said he wasn’t surprised that the Wizards were more than ready for the showdown with the Eastern Conference leaders.
“Records never matter when we play the Wizards,” James said. “It’s always going to be like that, whenever we play them.”
Interim Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said that the game meant more than usual.
“We get prepared to play them like no one else,” he said.
Washington squandered a 14-point second-half lead but held on for the victory.
“We hope that this will give people a bit of a preview of what we will be next year,” Tapscott said. “It’s what we thought we would be this year.”
Arenas was playing his second game of the season as he bids to return from knee surgery. He scored 11 points with 10 assists and six rebounds.
Haywood, also playing his second game of the season after a serious wrist injury, chipped in 12 points with 10 rebounds.
Caron Butler added 25 points and Antawn Jamison 19 for Washington, who ended a three-game losing streak.
Cleveland’s James scored 22 of his 31 points in the second half and finished with six assists and nine rebounds.
Arenas said the victory was satisfying, even if the Wizards are out of the playoff hunt.
“For us, it’s a real win. Because they’re trying to be the best. He [James] is trying to win an MVP award, so they had everything to lose, and we had everything to gain,” Arenas said.
NUGGETS 114, JAZZ 104
At Denver, Colorado, J.R. Smith sank a career-high eight three-pointers in his 28 points as Denver downed Utah to reach 50 wins faster than any time in its NBA history.
Smith’s threes were one short of the franchise mark set by Michael Adams in 1991 and tied four years later by Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.
Carmelo Anthony added 23 points for the Nuggets, who are seeking home-court advantage in a playoff series for the first time since 1988.
Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, who recently returned to full health after dealing with a bad back for a month, went to the locker room in the third quarter with what the team described as a cartilage strain in his left rib cage. X-rays didn’t show a major problem but he didn’t return to action.
C.J. Miles led six Jazz in double figures with 19 points.
76ERS 105, BUCKS 95
At Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala scored 20 and Lou Williams had 14 of his 21 in the second half as the home team rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to beat Milwaukee.
Andre Miller contributed 18 points and 11 assists for the Sixers (39-35), who won their second straight and vaulted past Miami into fifth place in the East.