WASHINGTON — Donovan Mitchell scored 40 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame an uneven performance for their 15th victory in 16 games, a 114-106 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
Evan Mobley added 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting to help the Cavaliers extend their current NBA-best win streak to seven games and move a game ahead of Milwaukee and New York in second place in the Eastern Conference.
“I keep saying it, it’s February 7th,” Mitchell said. “This is great, we’re in a great position. But at the end of the day, we’re trying to play until April, be in the best position (then). Definitely not satisfied with where we’re at.”
Mitchell and Mobley also had eight rebounds apiece as Cleveland survived a game with nine ties and 17 lead changes against the Wizards, who are second-to-last in the East.
The Cavs lost the rebounding battle 47-46 to Washington, the league’s worst team on the glass, but held the hosts to just 45% shooting (42 of 94). And they limited Jordan Poole — the Wizards’ second-leading scorer — scoreless on five shots before he fouled out in 24-plus minutes.
“I think we just do our best to try and make it as difficult as we can on him,” said Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff, whose team has held Poole to 3 of 20 from the floor in three games. “We throw different lineups at him, different matchups. Our big guys do a great job of protecting, but guys have taken an individual challenge on him.”
Neither team led by more than seven until Darius Garland’s runner was counted good via basket interference to make it 108-99 with 56 seconds remaining.
Kyle Kuzma scored 28 points for Washington, which closed a four-game homestand without a victory after winning two of its first three games under interim coach Brian Keefe.
Corey Kispert added 23 points and Daniel Gafford had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, who hit 16 of their 40 3-point attempts to keep the contest close.
“I thought it was more on us,” Mobley said of the Wizards playing Cleveland about even for three quarters. “We just had a lot of mental lapses, started out pretty slow, just weren’t knocking down shots that we normally knock down.”
The first and second quarters ended even, and Cleveland led 80-79 at the end of the third after Mitchell’s mid-range runner beat the buzzer.
Then he scored five points during a 9-0 run in the fourth that gave the Cavaliers the lead for good. And Mitchell’s fifth and final 3-pointer — a pull-up over Kuzma with the shot clock expiring — made it 104-97 with 2:19 left.
He added two more layups to complete his 18th 40-point game in 108 games with Cleveland.
“For us, we didn’t start out well, we didn’t play our best basketball,” Mitchell said. “For us to kind of still know that, acknowledge that, and being able to fix it … it’s something to fall back on, understanding that we have a foundation.”
Cavaliers: At Brooklyn Thursday night.
Wizards: At Boston Friday night.
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