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November 20, 2013

Beal, Nene lead Wizards past Cavaliers 98-91

CLEVELAND — Bradley Beal scored 26 points and Nene added 24, leading the Washington Wizards to a 98-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

John Wall and Martell Webster both scored 15 points for Washington, which took control early and held off Cleveland’s late charge.

The Wizards led by double figures midway through the first quarter, were ahead 56-38 at halftime, and pushed the margin to 27 points in the third quarter.

Cleveland trailed 86-71 midway through the fourth before Kyrie Irving scored 11 straight points to cut the deficit to four points with 2:56 remaining.

Marcin Gortat’s two free throws with 1:16 left extended the lead to 92-86, and Beal added two free throws with 32.8 seconds remaining to put the game away.

Irving scored 28 points, including 18 in the final period, to lead Cleveland, which has dropped four of five.

Washington, which broke a four-game losing streak on Tuesday by rallying from a 16-point deficit to defeat Minnesota, has won two straight for the second time this season. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards in overtime on Saturday when Irving matched his career high with 41 points.

Washington raced to a 21-9 lead in the rematch, forcing Cleveland coach Mike Brown to use two timeouts in the first seven minutes. The Wizards built a 14-point lead and shot 13 of 26 in the quarter.

The margin reached 50-32 on Wall’s three-point play with  3:15 remaining in the second quarter, marking the first and only time the Wizards went to the foul line in the first half.

Washington built a 73-46 lead midway through the third quarter before the Cavaliers reserves cut into the margin.

Both teams are searching for ways to put an end to their disappointing starts. Cleveland’s players held a meeting after last week’s 29-point loss to Minnesota. The meeting reportedly got heated, but several players said no punches were thrown.

Shooting guard Dion Waiters, who missed the next two games with the flu, returned to practice Monday, but lost his starting job to Miles while he was gone.

Brown said before the game he was pleased with his new lineup, but the switch lasted less than three minutes when Miles left the game with a strained right calf and was taken to the locker room. Waiters entered the game with 9:27 left in the first quarter.

Waiters scored 11 points in 31 minutes. Jarrett Jack and Anderson Varejao both scored 14.

Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the draft, entered the game to begin the fourth quarter with the Cavaliers trailing 80-59. Bennett, who is 5 for 37 from the field, shot an air ball on a 3-point attempt.

Cleveland center Andrew Bynum, who said earlier this month he is considering retirement as he comes back from surgery on both knees, scored two points and had one rebound in 12 minutes.

Notes: The Wizards broke a four-game losing streak against the Cavaliers. ... Cleveland C Tyler Zeller (sprained right ankle) was inactive. ... F Trevor Ariza (strained right hamstring) and F Al Harrington (sore right knee) missed the game for Washington. ... Cleveland, which is 1-6 on the road, plays at New Orleans on Friday.

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