CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 29 points, Kevin Love added 21 and the Cleveland Cavaliers exacted a little revenge on Washington with a 113-87 win over the Wizards on Wednesday night.
Five days after they were embarrassed in a 91-78 loss to Washington, the Cavs controlled this one from the start and got back to .500.
James led the way, also collecting 10 rebounds and eight assists in 36 minutes. The four-time MVP, who called his team "fragile" during a recent four-game losing streak, was energized from the start as he powered to the basket and imposed his will on the Wizards.
With Cleveland up by 19, James took a seat with 7:52 left, getting an early start on the Thanksgiving holiday. Kyrie Irving added 18 points for the Cavs.
Rasual Butler scored 23 and Paul Pierce had 15 for the Wizards, who only got six points from leading scorer John Wall. The speedy point guard had 28 last week in Washington’s dominant win over Cleveland and came in averaging 27 in his last three games against the Cavs. Wall attempted just six shots.
Cleveland coach David Blatt said the ugly loss at Washington last week "got our attention." The Cavs committed 19 turnovers, couldn’t contain Wall and shot a season-low 36 percent while being outplayed at both ends before a national TV audience.
James missed 13 of 21 shots that night, and was guilty of not hustling back on defense, giving the Wizards a 5-on-4 break with the game still up for grabs in the fourth quarter. Afterward, Blatt said his team was "a little bit in the dark."
The Cavs seem to be emerging from it. Their ball movement was better, they helped each other on defense and the Cavs didn’t stand around waiting for James to carry them.
James came out in attack mode, driving and drawing fouls. He attempted eight free throws in the first quarter and got to the line 17 times for the game, matching a season high.
Wizards: G Bradley Beal made his first start this season. He missed Washington’s first nine games after breaking his left wrist in an Oct. 10 exhibition and undergoing surgery. He scored 10. … F/C Nene missed his second straight game with plantar fasciitis, giving Kris Humphries his second start in a row. … Pierce is 62 points behind Reggie Miller for 16th on the career scoring list.
Cavaliers: Irving told Cleveland’s coaching staff he wants to guard the opposition’s best perimeter player, which meant his assignment was Wall. "I just have to do the job at stopping the head of the snake," Irving said. … Tristan Thompson and Wall exchanged words in the third quarter and drew technical fouls while helping renew this scrappy rivalry.
Wizards: Host New Orleans on Saturday in the first of four straight home games.