WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall took over in the third quarter Friday night and finished 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and the hustling Washington Wizards clamped down for a 91-78 win over LeBron James and the mostly flatfooted Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost their third straight to fall back below .500.
Resuming a rivalry that peaked last decade when the Wizards and James’ Cavaliers met three consecutive years in the playoffs — it was so intense that both Jay-Z and Soulja Boy got involved — the Wizards eagerly pounced on their old nemesis. They grabbed a majority of the 50-50 rebounds and capitalized on the defensive woes that have led to Cleveland’s surprisingly mediocre start.
James scored 22 points on 8-for-21 shooting, but Cleveland committed 19 turnovers, shot 36 percent and scored a season-low in points. James was never below .500 more than 10 games into a season during his four seasons with the Miami Heat, but he and the Cavaliers are now 5-6.
Cleveland was held without a field goal in the final 9:16.
Kevin Seraphin made hook after hook to score all 12 of his points in the second quarter and finished with six rebounds and three blocks for the Wizards, who have won four of five.
There was no big-time rapper performing at this game — unless that counts James rapping with headphones on at his locker before the game — but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey were among the see-and-be-seen crowd at the Wizards’ first sellout of the season.
Wall scored 17 points in the third quarter, responding after the Wizards hit a rare lull. Washington had a 55-42 halftime lead shrunk to 60-53, but the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick then began to assert himself at both ends.
Wall scored six points in a row, including a stop-and-pop jumper after he dribbled downcourt following one of his rebounds, to push the lead to 16 points. He later hustled to intercept a long fast-break pass intended for James, a steal that eventually lead to two free throws for Wall and another 16-point lead.
James grew visibly frustrated in the fourth. He stayed behind at the Wizards’ end before heading downcourt after failing to grab a rebound with about 6 1/2 minutes left, essentially giving Washington a 5-on-4 possession.
Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving went 0 for 6 from 3-point range, and the team went 6 for 27. … Kevin Love scored a season-low eight points.
Wizards: Cleveland got the better of Washington in all three of their first-round series meetings from 2006-08. Soulja Boy performed live at Game 3 in the 2008 series. On Friday, Washington played one of his songs during a fourth-quarter timeout. … Coach Randy Wittman got a technical in the third quarter for arguing a charging call on Nene.