Magical James, Irving help Cavs win thriller
08 Feb 2017 - 1:31
Washington: LeBron James sank an astonishing 3-pointer to force overtime and Kyrie Irving sparkled late as the Cleveland Cavaliers outlasted Washington 140-135 on Monday in an epic NBA thriller.
A game featuring play-off-level intensity from tip-off to last shot saw the defending champions rally in overtime after James had fouled out while the Wizards, who saw their 17-game home win streak snapped, served notice they will be a formidable foe when the playoffs arrive.
"It was an instant classic – a great basketball game by two really good teams," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.
On the same night the New York Daily News reported unnamed sources saying James was pushing for the Cavs to trade Kevin Love to New York for former Olympic team-mate Carmelo Anthony, Love scored 39 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, making major plays late to doom the Wizards.
"Thirty-nine and 12? We're going to trade him tonight," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told reporters with a grin after the game before adding,
"He's not going anywhere." James said of the report: "That's trash."
With the Wizards leading 118-117 and 12 seconds remaining, James drove the length of the court but missed a layup, setting up two John Wall free throws for a 3-point Washington lead with 3.4 seconds remaining.
Love hurled a long pass to James along the right sideline and the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player banked in a shock fadeaway 3-pointer over Washington's Bradley Beal to deadlock the game at 120-120.
James, who also made three consecutive 3-pointers for Cleveland late in regulation, fouled out seconds into overtime trying to defend a shot by Beal, who scored a game-high 41 points, the last of them on a 3-pointer that put Washington ahead 133-131.
Irving answered with a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers ahead to stay. Marcin Gortat pulled the Wizards within 136-135 but Irving and Love each hit two late free throws to seal the victory, snapping a seven-game Wizards win streak, their longest in 12 years.
"(We won) by executing at a high level," Irving said. "I'm glad we pulled it out -- great win. Motivating."
James scored 32 points and passed out a career-best 17 assists, Irving scored 11 of his 23 points in overtime and Tristan Thompson added 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
"I think they respect us. That's the most important thing," Wall added. "Throughout the game LeBron said, 'You all are playing some hell of a basketball right now.'"