WASHINGTON (AP) — One day after their general manager was unexpectedly fired and playing without their second leading scorer, the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to snap their six-game losing streak.
Luol Deng was out with flu-like symptoms, and Kyrie Irving, who missed shootaround because he was ill, fought through his sneezing spells to help lead the Cavaliers to a 115-113 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday.
Irving had 23 points and tied a career high with 12 assists and made all 13 of his free throws. Dion Waiters scored 24 points and C.J. Miles had 18 for Cleveland.
"I'm all right. It's the best that I'm going to get right now," Irving said.
The second-year guard admitted that the firing of Chris Grant, who drafted him, was troubling.
"That's the sad part, the bad part about our business. Things are going to change whether you like it or not and you still have to go out there and perform as a professional. It was probably on our minds but we can't use it as an excuse," Irving said.
Cleveland took a 67-63 lead at halftime when Irving hit four free throws just before the intermission and never relinquished it.
The Cavaliers took a 101-87 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Wizards, who were led by John Wall's 32 points and 10 assists, couldn't make up the difference.
Martell Webster hit two late 3-pointers to cut the lead to 115-113 with 2.9 seconds left. Cleveland's Jarrett Jack missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining. A scramble resulted with Washington getting possession with 0.2 seconds left, but couldn't get off a final shot.
The near comeback didn't impress Wizards coach Randy Wittman.
"We wait until the last four minutes to fly around and decide to play defense. Last four minutes of the game. Everybody will say, you gave a great effort coming down the stretch. No we didn't. For 44 minutes we didn't give an effort," Wittman said.
His team didn't heed his warnings.
"We told them what that organization is going through right now. Some tough times with the firing of their GM. They're going to be desperate. It always happens no matter who it is that gets fired," Wittman said.