James' magic stuns Wizards

Cleveland forward LeBron James shooting a three-point basket as Washington guard Bradley Beal tries to defend. The Cavaliers won 106-99.
Cleveland forward LeBron James shooting a three-point basket as Washington guard Bradley Beal tries to defend. The Cavaliers won 106-99.PHOTO: REUTERS

His third straight triple-double helps Cavs to 18 wins in 19 as they beat Washington again

WASHINGTON • LeBron James spared the Washington Wizards another thrashing. The last time he visited Capital One Arena, he left the floor with the highest-scoring night of any Wizards opponent on their home court.

The Cavaliers star did not score 57 points again on Sunday but he still dominated the Wizards with timely buckets, laser-like passes and a workmanlike mentality under the boards in Cleveland's 106-99 win.

He finished with 20 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds for his third straight triple-double, tying the longest streak in his career, achieved in 2009 during his first Most Valuable Player (MVP) season.

That made it four triple-doubles in his last five games. The scariest part for upcoming National Basketball Association (NBA) opponents?

The four-time MVP does not see a dip in his level of play coming anytime soon.

"The game is just very, very slow to me right now," said the 32-year-old. "I'm playing the game at a snail's pace and I'm able to see everything and see things happen before they happen. Put the ball on time, on target.

"I'm just in a good groove, and I'll probably be here for awhile."

Cleveland (23-8) have won 18 of their last 19 games and have had the Wizards' number twice this season, including a 130-122 win on Nov 3.

Since last year, the Wizards (16-14) have had designs on meeting the Cavaliers in the post-season.

They might have to re-evaluate their wishes, with the Wizards on Sunday lacking the frontcourt depth to back up their belief that they match up well against the Cavaliers.

Wizards starting forward Otto Porter Jr. did not play after injuring his hip. Kelly Oubre Jr. replaced him and had 11 points.

With the Wizards short-handed on the perimeter, Bradley Beal played the opening 20 minutes in the first half and 43 overall.

He scored 27 points and fellow guard John Wall added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The performance from Washington's backcourt kept the contest close but, late in the game, all of the best plays belonged to Cleveland.

James swatted Wall and sent his part-time summer workout buddy careening into the baseline seats, and Kevin Love drilled a three-pointer to open a six-point lead in the final 31/2 minutes.

Then James maximised the next possession by spinning past Mike Scott and scoring the layup through a foul.

Love led the Cavaliers with 25 points, while Jeff Green had 15.

"It was a crazy game, you know, back and forth," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

"The real thing I'm really happy about is our defence in the second half."

WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2017, with the headline 'James' magic stuns Wizards'. Print Edition | Subscribe