CLEVELAND (AP) — John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.
Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.
James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.
Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.
But even more importantly, the Wizards, who are 29-10 since Jan. 6 and within 2 ½ games of first, showed they could put a complete game together against the Cavs — a possible playoff opponent. They lost to Cleveland 140-135 on Feb. 6, when James banked in an impossible 3-pointer to force OT.
Trailing from early in the first quarter, the Cavs got within four in the fourth and were down only eight when Wall scored on a layup and Otto Porter delivered a dagger dunk to make it 123-111.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue called time and pulled his starters, conceding the win to the Wizards, who are playing with swagger and have the look of a team poised to make some postseason noise.
James scratched his right cornea on Friday night when he got poked in the eye by Charlotte’s Jeremy Lamb. He stayed in the game, but afterward said there was a chance he would rest against the Wizards and the Cavs listed him as questionable until about two hours before tip-off.
James took the floor wearing glasses for the first time in his career and played the first eight minutes before tossing them aside.
Wall, who played Friday after shaking off a migraine headache and helped Washington clinch a playoff spot, didn’t miss in the first quarter, when the Wizards barely misfired.
Wall went 8 for 8 and scored 18, and Washington made 18 of 22 shots while opening a 14-point lead over the Cavs, who continue to insist they’ll get their defensive issues addressed before the playoffs.
Wizards: F Bojan Bogdanovic was a late scratch with lower back stiffness after coach Scott Brooks said his team would be at full strength. The Croatian is averaging 14.8 points in 17 games since coming over in a trade from Brooklyn. … Brooks, who spent 12 seasons in the NBA as a journeyman point guard, marveled at Devin Booker’s 70- point performance in Boston on Friday. “It took me like 63 games to get 70 points,” Brooks cracked. “I got 70 in practice, combined maybe. It doesn’t happen often. It’s pretty incredible.”
Cavaliers: James (7,394) moved past Maurice Cheeks (7,392) for 12th place on the career assists list. … Irving has scored at least 20 in 21 straight games — the longest active streak in the NBA. … The “resting” players issue blew up this week when the Cavs sat James, Irving and Love, prompting NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to send a memo to team owners urging them to get more involved in the decision-making process. Lue said he had no trouble with the league’s stance or concerns. “The Commissioner is doing his job and what’s right for the league,” Lue said. “It’s not a big deal.”
Wizards: Continue a cross-country, five-game road trip at the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Cavaliers: Return to the road on Monday night at San Antonio.
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