The Wizards' best start in years continued at a thunderous pace Wednesday night with a gutsy 97-94 road victory in Cleveland.
Washington improved to 8-3, equaling the start of the 2014-15 Paul Pierce Wizards. Kyle Kuzma proved to be an assassin down the stretch for the Wizards, scoring 12 points on four three-pointers in the fourth quarter, including two in the final 26 seconds of the game.
After the game, Kuzma had an interesting turn of phrase to describe Washington's efforts in the clutch.
"When it was nut-cutting time, we did a good job of playing the right way, finding the open man, and also getting stops," he told reporters. "We held that team to [94 points]. That's big time."
"So for us to do that on the road and start our road trip off right, with this stretch of road games we have, is important," he said.
Trailing by six after three quarters, the Wizards rallied late and outscored the Cavs 29-20 in the fourth quarter to win the game by three. The Wizards were still down by five with 1:26 remaining in regulation when Bradley Beal hit a clutch three-pointer to pull the Wizards within two, at 91-89.
After tightening up on defense, the Wizards found a late burst of offense when Kyle Kuzma hit two threes in the closing 30 seconds, the second of which gave Washington a 95-94 lead with 11.4 seconds to play.
The Wizards again held the line defensively, long enough for first-round pick Corey Kispert to make a layup that would give the Wizards some needed breathing room, a three-point lead with less than a second for the Cavs to retaliate, which they failed to do when Darius Garland unsuccessfully heaved up a prayer from three quarters of the way down the court.
The surprising Wizards, under new head coach Wes Unseld Jr., are tied with the Bulls for the top seed in the Eastern Conference after 11 games.