CLEVELAND — Seldom-used Billy Thomas, Dwayne Jones and Damon Jones played enough to work up quite a lather Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The important part of Game 2, however, was no sweat for the Cavaliers, who absolutely dominated the Washington Wizards 116-86 to take total control of their first-round playoff series.
The trash-talking Wizards got beat so badly, in fact, they didn’t even take offense to Damon Jones imitating Washington guard DeShawn Stevenson by waving his hand in front of his face after making a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left in the blowout.
“If you lose by (30), he has a right to do anything he wants,” Wizards power forward Antawn Jamison said.
In recording the largest margin of victory in franchise playoff history, the Cavaliers did, in fact, do anything — and everything — they wanted.
“They beat us,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “We beat ourselves. Their coach (Mike Brown) kept them disciplined. This coach didn’t do enough to keep us competitive.”
The Cavaliers lead the best-of-seven series 2-0, with Game 3 set for Thursday at 8 p.m. in Washington. Teams have come back to win a series after being down 2-0 just 13 times in 204 prior occasions, but the Cavaliers know it can happen because they did it last year against Detroit to earn their first trip to the NBA Finals.
“We’re here to win a series,” said LeBron James, who led the Cavaliers with 30 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists. “We’re not here to talk. We’re just here to win and move on.”
The Cavaliers also got 16 points and nine boards from Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 15 points from Wally Szczerbiak and 13 points from Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. All those numbers could have been much bigger, but they didn’t need to be, Cleveland’s domination was so complete.
“The way we approached the game tonight was amazing,” James said.
Washington’s Big Three, meanwhile, threw up enough bricks to add a seventh story to The Q. Caron Butler (12 points, 4-of-13), Antawn Jamison (nine, 4-of-13) and Gilbert Arenas (seven, 2-of-10), who averaged a combined 61.1 points in the regular season, mustered just 28 points on 10-of-36 shooting in Game 2.
“The defense set the tone for us,” Brown said. “We were consistent at that end of the floor.”
Game 2 picked up right where Game 1 left off, as bodies flew, tempers flared and whistles blew. There was an added dimension this time, as Washington center Brendan Haywood got an automatic ejection after pushing an airborne James to the floor and being hit with a Flagrant Foul-Penalty 2 at the 6:59 mark of the third period.
“It was scary, honestly,” James said. “My junior year (in high school), I got undercut the same way when I was up in the air and I ended up breaking my wrist.”
Haywood, who got a technical for standing over James late in the first half of Game 1, will face an automatic suspension if the league upholds the Penalty 2 distinction when it reviews the play today. There’s a good chance, however, that it will be changed to a Penalty 1 call, which wouldn’t call for a suspension.
“I’m not part of the league staff or how they look at plays,” James said. “It was not a basketball play in any way, shape or form. Somebody definitely could have been injured.”
The physical battle started right after the opening tip, as James hammered Stevenson on a drive seconds into the game, with no call being made. Less than two minutes later, Haywood fouled James hard on a drive to the hoop.
With veteran officials Dan Crawford, Mark Wunderlich and Rodney Mott determined to keep things under control, Arenas was called for a foul against Szczerbiak in the post with 4:22 to go in the first period, then a quick technical when he pushed the Cleveland shooting guard in the lower back.
Moments later, Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao got into the act, committing a Flagrant Foul-Penalty 1 by delivering a forearm to the head of a driving Andray Blatche.
That tit-for-tat was the only area where the Wizards came remotely close to playing the Cavaliers even, as James helped Cleveland dominate at both ends of the floor.
“He is head and shoulders above everyone else,” Jordan said. “Sometimes he looks like a man playing among boys.”
With James on the bench to start the second quarter, Washington scored eight straight points to go up 30-27, but James came back in and Cleveland completely took over.
With James taking on the assignment of guarding Arenas and Joe Smith shutting down Jamison, the Cavaliers closed the half on a 26-10 run to go up 53-40 at intermission.
They then avoided their typical third-quarter swoon, scoring on their first three possessions to build their lead to 19. The margin grew to 25 later in the period, with the Cavaliers taking a commanding 86-63 lead into the final quarter.
“I didn’t say anything (about starting the third quarter strong),” Brown said. “LeBron did. I talked some technical stuff with the guys, some X’s and O’s. Then LeBron started talking, so I just left. The guys followed his lead.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cavs 116, Wizards 86
WASHINGTON (86): Butler 4-13 4-4 12, Jamison 4-13 0-2 9, Haywood 3-3 4-5 10, Daniels 1-5 2-2 4, Stevenson 4-7 2-3 12, Blatche 4-8 1-4 9, Arenas 2-10 3-4 7, Mason 2-6 6-8 10, Songaila 3-3 6-6 12, McGuire 0-0 1-2 1, Young 0-4 0-0 0, Pecherov 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-72 29-40 86.
CLEVELAND (116): James 9-19 10-17 30, Wallace 3-5 2-4 8, Ilgauskas 7-11 2-3 16, West 1-5 0-0 3, Szczerbiak 6-9 1-1 15, Gibson 4-8 3-3 13, Varejao 3-6 1-1 7, Smith 4-9 1-2 9, Brown 2-5 2-2 7, Dw.Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Da.Jones 1-2 0-0 3, B.Thomas 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 42-81 22-33 116.
Washington 22 18 23 23 — 86
Cleveland 27 26 33 30 — 116
3-Point Goals—Washington 3-16 (Stevenson 2-4, Jamison 1-3, Butler 0-1, Young 0-1, Daniels 0-2, Arenas 0-2, Mason 0-3), Cleveland 10-19 (Gibson 2-2, Szczerbiak 2-5, James 2-6, B.Thomas 1-1, Da.Jones 1-1, West 1-1, Brown 1-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Washington 47 (Jamison 9), Cleveland 59 (Ilgauskas, James 9). Assists—Washington 16 (Butler 5), Cleveland 27 (James 12). Total Fouls—Washington 28, Cleveland 25. Technicals—Arenas. Flagrant Fouls—Haywood, Varejao. Ejected—Haywood. A—20,562 (20,562).