CLEVELAND (Ohio) • Riding a four-game losing streak and looking for a way out, the Washington Wizards played small and fast. And the defending Eastern Conference champions Cleveland Cavaliers had no answer.
Guard John Wall scored a season-high 35 points, and coach Randy Wittman's seat cooled ever so slightly after the Wizards' impressive 97-85 victory against the Cavs on Tuesday.
It was the Cavs' first home loss of the National Basketball Association league season following a 9-0 start at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland had won 29 of their previous 30 home games.
Forward LeBron James scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, but committed nine turnovers.
The Cavaliers (13-5) shot 33.7 per cent and committed 18 turnovers, just shy of their season-high 21 set in a double-overtime loss.
They still possess the best record in the East, but are 5-4 following an eight-game winning streak.
The Wizards (7-8) badly underperformed throughout the early stages of this season, but belted the best team in the East on their home floor after dropping three of four games to the Cavaliers last season.
"I had some line-ups out there tonight that I don't know if I would have dreamt about," said Wittman, whose job security came into question during the Wizards' dismal start. "But I give them credit. Our guys did everything that they possibly could and it was enough."
For at least one night, they looked every bit the team that won 46 games last season and advanced to the second round of the play-offs.
"They beat us from beginning to end," James said. "They beat us in every facet of the game, right from the beginning.
"Their pace, their speed, their ability to get the ball up the floor really caused us problems."
The Wizards lost their last two road games before Tuesday by a combined 47 points.
"We are an unpredictable team," centre Marcin Gortat said.
"Last year, we proved we could beat good teams by 20, but we can lose at Philly. We are a crazy team."