WASHINGTON – That the Cleveland Cavaliers would drop a road game against a would-be playoff team while giving LeBron James a rare day off might not be all that surprising to most.
Still, trailing by as many as 30 points on the way to a 113-99 loss to John Wall and the Washington Wizards on Sunday did not sit well with Cleveland’s J.R. Smith.
“If we’re going to play with a lack of energy . . . and come out and play the way we did today,” Smith declared, “we shouldn’t be who we are and be in these uniforms.”
Smith, who had eight points and four rebounds in 18 minutes, continued: “We can’t play basketball like this going down the stretch. . . . You talk about contending or being a championship contender and you’re blown out . . . and get thrashed, make it look good at the end. We can’t do that. If we’re serious about who we’re supposed to be, we can’t do this.”
It was the second consecutive loss for Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland, which is in the middle of a stretch of three games in four days.
That busy schedule was one of the reasons coach Tyronn Lue gave for resting James, who had skipped only one other game this season, on Dec. 5 at Miami.
“Any time you (make) that kind of move, it kind of lets the guys down a little bit,” Lue said. “But that’s a decision that we made.”
James left the locker room without speaking to the media.
Taking advantage of not having to deal with the four-time NBA MVP, the Wizards got a boost in their bid to move into playoff position, using Wall’s 21 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, and 21 points from Otto Porter Jr., to improve to 5-2 since the All-Star break.
“Doesn’t matter (if) they want to rest guys,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “This game still counts.”
Heat 98, Knicks 81
In New York, Dwyane Wade scored 26 points, Joe Johnson made a 3-pointer on his first shot in a Miami uniform during a big game-opening run, and the Heat beat the Knicks.
Johnson was in the starting lineup a day after signing with Miami and contributed to a 13-2 burst to start the game, a lead the Heat never relinquished.
Miami had dropped two in a row but made a nice pickup during that stretch Saturday with the signing of Johnson, a seven-time All-Star who had been waived by Brooklyn.
Hawks 87, Hornets 76
In Atlanta, Kent Bazemore scored 14 points and Al Horford had 13 points and tied a season high with 16 rebounds.
Mavericks 128, T-Wolves 101
In Dallas, Chandler Parsons scored 29 points and the Mavericks got off to a fast start.
Parsons scored 13 straight Dallas points in a stretch covering the second and third quarters
Trail Blazers 111, Pacers 102
In Indianapolis, Damian Lillard had 33 points and five rebounds to lead Portland to a victory.
Pistons 114, Raptors 101
In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Andre Drummond had 15 points and 18 rebounds, and the Pistons took advantage of Kyle Lowry’s absence.
Magic 130, 76ers 116
In Orlando, rookie Mario Hezonja dunked four seconds into his first NBA start, finishing with 13 points, and the Magic led all the way in a victory over Philadelphia.