– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
WASHINGTON — They may be in the phase where wearing name tags would be best to get to know one another, but the new-look Washington Wizards displayed good chemistry in their first game with a revamped roster.
Acquired during a flurry of trade deadline deals across the league, former Chicago Bull Bobby Portis scored 30 points in his Washington debut while another new acquisition from Chicago, Jabari Parker, almost produced a triple-double off the bench as the Wizards defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-106 on Friday night at Capital One Arena.
On Tuesday the Wizards found out that franchise point guard John Wall suffered a torn left Achilles after an accident at his home, ruling him out of action for the next 12 months. That unfortunate event also acted as the impetus for the Wizards, languishing in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, to hit the reset button; Mainstays Otto Porter Jr. (Bulls) and Markieff Morris (Pelicans) were traded away, officially starting the next phase in the franchise’s history.
It took all of 12 minutes for Portis to make himself feel at home, scoring 16 of his 30 points in the first quarter and making all six of his field goal attempts as Washington exploded for 41 points in the period.
“When I first got here yesterday, I felt the love right off,” said Portis, a first-round pick by the Bulls in 2015. “Everybody welcomed me in. All my teammates and my coaches wanted me to be myself.”
Parker also was himself and comfortable in the red, white and blue of the Wizards, going for seven points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in just 23 minutes off the bench.
“I’m probably the one that kept him from a triple-double,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks.
Even with the new blood in town, the Wizards’ other franchise guard, Bradley Beal, will still play huge roles in any Wizards outcome this season, and he dazzled with his new teammates to the tune of 25 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.
“I was actually surprised with how well [Portis] was able to mesh quickly on the fly, him and Jabari,” Beal said. “It was almost like free-flowing. That’s how we play anyway.”
Cleveland was playing without the services of the injured Tristan Thompson and Cedi Osman, but did see the return of Kevin Love, who missed the past 50 games after undergoing toe surgery on his left foot. He scored four points on 1-of-5 shooting in six minutes in the first quarter and did not return to action afterward.
Collin Sexton led the Cavs with 27 points while Jordan Clarkson had 24. Larry Nance Jr. had 10 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in vain as the Cavaliers have now lost 21 of their last 24 contests.
“We turned the basketball over five times in that first quarter, which you just cannot do on the road,” said Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew. “They built the lead, a lead just too big for us to overcome.”
Cleveland, as active as any team with trades this season, pulled off a three-team deal at the deadline with the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets, acquiring forward Marquese Chriss, guard Brandon Knight, a 2019 first-round draft pick and a 2022 second-round pick from the Rockets. Chriss, in his first game with the Cavs tonight, scored 13 points.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 13 pictures in total.