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Howard Leads Wizards By Cavs

Everyone already knew the Washington Wizards' backcourt could play well. Throw in a rare, dominating performance from the beleaguered front line, and it easily added up to the team's most lopsided victory this season.

Juwan Howard had 28 points and 15 rebounds. Otis Thorpe scored 17 points, including five straight to start a huge third-quarter run. Terry Davis was practically wearing Shawn Kemp's jersey much of the evening. When it was over Saturday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers had been blown away, 113-83.

"They did a good job," coach Bernie Bickerstaff said of a front court that has struggled because it lacks a true center and power rebounder. "Now we need some consistency, we need to sustain it. If we're going to get in the hunt and stay in the hunt, we've got to be consistent."

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  • The backcourt was in stellar form. Mitch Richmond scored 29 points and shot 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and Rod Strickland had 16 assists and matched a career-high with six steals as the Wizards, who had lost four of their previous five, shot 52 percent for their most complete game in a very inconsistent season.

    "You got to accept the fact that sometimes you're the pigeon," Bickerstaff said. "And sometimes you're the statue."

    The defeat, which snapped a three-game winning streak and returned Cleveland to the .500 mark, was the Cavaliers' worst of the year. It followed one of their most inspiring victories, 100-83 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, and left coach Mike Fratello echoing Bickerstaff's thoughts about consistency.

    "People are going to wonder was it really a fluke the other night," Fratello said. "Or did we go out and earn a victory? You strive for consistency."

    Already last in rebounding in the NBA, the Cavs were dominated 45-33 on the boards by the Wizards, the third-worst rebounding teain the league.

    "We had zero offensive rebounds in the first half zero offensive rebounds," Fratello said. "That's terrible."

    For the Cavaliers, the picture was simple: When Kemp stopped being a factor six minutes into the game, the team slumped. He went more than 15 minutes without a field goal, and the Wizards extended a three-point lead to 12 during the drought.

    Kemp, chest-to-chest and often locking arms with Davis, scored 10 of his 15 points in the first quarter. Johnny Newman led Cleveland with 18 points.

    "Shawn is good," Davis said. "The best thing you can do is get him out of position and hope he'll miss his shots."

    The Wizards allowed the first six points of the second half as the Cavaliers closed a 51-38 deficit to 51-44. Then Thorpe, Richmond and Howard took over.

    Thorpe scored the next five Wizards points, Richmond followed with two 3-pointers and two free throws over a 90-second stretch, and Howard scored eight Washington points in a row with three fast-break layups and a jumper.

    It all made for a 32-11 run and an embarrassing finish for the Cavs.

    "When a team kicks your butt like that," Kemp said, "there's not a whole lot you can say."

    Notes: The Wizards' previous biggest margin of victory this season was 20 in a 97-77 victory at Atlanta on March 2. ... The Cavs' previous biggest loss was also at Atlanta, 100-83 in their season opener. ... Wizards struggling swingman Tracy Murray didn't play, ending his consecutive games streak at 272. It was the fifth-longest active streak in the NBA. Bickerstaff said he was unaware of the streak, and wouldn't have played Murray anyway. ... Washington begins a five-game road trip Monday at Indiana.

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