WASHINGTON (AP) — When the Washington Wizards found out that All-Star point guard John Wall was going to need surgery for a ruptured left Achilles tendon, just a month after surgery to repair bone spurs in his left heel, they decided to regroup.
Wall’s surgery will cost him at least the majority of the 2019-20 season. After learning the news just ahead of the NBA’s trading deadline, the Wizards quickly traded Otto Porter Jr and Markieff Morris in separate deals.
One of the players Washington acquired from the Chicago Bulls for Porter, Bobby Portis, had a spectacular debut, scoring 30 points to lead the Wizards over the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-106 on Friday night.
Portis had 16 in the first quarter, hitting all six of his field-goal attempts in the period.
“When I first got here yesterday, I felt the love right off,” Portis said. “Everybody welcomed me in. All my teammates and my coaches wanted me to be myself.”
Portis said the advice he received was succinct. “’Don’t try and fine tune. Come in and be who you are.’ That’s who I am,” he said.
The Wizards led 77-57 early in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers got to within 89-86 late in the period. Thanks in part to 10 more points from Portis in the fourth, Washington pulled away.
“Great pickup,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s an understatement.”
Bradley Beal added 25 points and 12 assists. Jabari Parker, who came along with Portis from Chicago, had seven points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
“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, which has lost 21 of 24, was led by Collin Sexton with 27 points. Jordan Clarkson scored 24, and Larry Nance Jr had 10 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.
“We turned the basketball over five times in that first quarter, which you just cannot do on the road,” Cavaliers coach Larry Drew said. “They built the lead, a lead just too big for us to overcome.”