CLEVELAND (Ohio) • The Cleveland Cavaliers returned from the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star break with a thud on Thursday, falling 103-110 to the Washington Wizards despite 32 points from LeBron James.
The Cavs had not lost since trading half a dozen players and receiving four - George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr - at the Feb 8 trade deadline, winning four straight heading into last week's All-Star break.
James, who earned his third All-Star Most Valuable Player award on Sunday in his 14th straight start in the mid-season exhibition, connected on 13 of 18 shots from the floor, pulled down nine rebounds and handed out eight assists.
He became the seventh player in NBA history with 11,000 career baskets, scoring Cleveland's last 14 points in defeat. But no other Cavalier had more than 15 points.
"We got some really, really good looks," he said. "We played hard. I think the legs, being off for nine days kind of got to us, especially after the first quarter."
The Cavs (34-23) had led by 12 in the second period, but they finished just eight-of-35 from three-point range as the Wizards (34-24), still without injured John Wall, did not miss their five-time All-Star point guard.
Tomas Satoransky, who started in place of Wall, scored 17 points, as did Kelly Oubre Jr.
Bradley Beal scored 18 points to lead the Wizards, who are now half a game behind Cleveland for third place in the Eastern Conference.
Trailing 79-82 going into the fourth, Cleveland took an 89-88 lead on Kyle Korver's three-pointer with 9min 42sec left. But Washington scored nine straight points to regain the lead.
"It's still a work in progress for us," James said. "It's not going to be overnight no matter the excitement before the break. We've got a lot of things to work on... we still played our game, we just didn't make a lot of shots."
Washington shot 44 of 92 (47.8 per cent) from the field and won the rebound battle 43-36. Cleveland shot 50 per cent from the floor, 42 of 84.
If the All-Star break slowed the Cavs, it seems to have energised the reigning champions Golden State Warriors, who held off the determined Los Angeles Clippers 134-127 in Oakland.
"Obviously the break came at a good time for us," said Warriors star Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 44 points, including a 38-footer at the first-quarter horn.
Kevin Durant added 21 with eight assists, Klay Thompson scored 19 points and Draymond Green chipped in 13 points with seven rebounds and six assists, for a Golden State team that coach Steve Kerr described as "mentally fried" as they lumbered into the All-Star break.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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