James, Irving lead Cavaliers to 5th straight victory

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, reacts after being hit in the face by Washington Wizards center Nene, left, from Brazil, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Washington. James remained in the game. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, reacts after being hit in the face by Washington Wizards center Nene, left, from Brazil, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Washington. James remained in the game. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) – LeBron James scored 34 points, Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter and the Cleveland Cavaliers survived a second-half charge to beat the injury-ravaged Washington Wizards 121-115 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Irving scored 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter of just his seventh game of the season, including a run of 10 straight that put the game away.

James had 10 rebounds, and J.R. Smith added 25 points for Cleveland.

Garrett Temple led the Wizards with 21 points, and John Wall had 20. Playing without Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and Drew Gooden, Washington lost its second straight game.

The Wizards got off to a strong start with one of their best first quarters in recent weeks as James missed some of his early looks. When Wall poked the ball away from Irving and sprung Dudley for an uncontested dunk midway through the first, Cleveland coach David Blatt called timeout with his team trailing 13-8.

Washington led going into the second and was up 35-28 when Ramon Sessions hit a 3-pointer. A few minutes later, Smith tied it for the first time at 35 and then made another 3-pointer to give the Cavs their first lead at 40-37.

Those baskets were part of a 13-2 run that ended with a technical foul on Wizards coach Randy Wittman for arguing with the referees. When James turned up the pressure and took over the game, the Cavaliers extended their lead to 12 by halftime.

James found his long-range stroke early in the second half, connecting on 3-pointers on four of five possessions. The Cavaliers led by as many as 18 during a dominant stretch.

When James dunked through traffic to make it 80-67, it looked like a statement of just how much Cleveland controlled the game.

Instead, the Wizards roared back. A layup and free throw by Otto Porter Jr. cut the Cavaliers’ lead to five with 2:05 left in the third quarter.

Washington had a chance to tie it with the third-quarter clock running out, Kevin Love stole the ball from Wall and Smith hit a buzzer-beating 3 to give the Cavs some breathing room.

It didn’t turn out to be too much, though, as the Wizards tied it at 95 early in the fourth quarter on a layup by Sessions. A turnover by Irving led to that basket.

As bad as Irving looked on that one play, he made up for it several times over in the minutes following. He scored 10 straight points while the Wizards were held off the board to make it 105-95 Cleveland.

SPARE THE BOWLING

When the Cavaliers embarked on a long trip last season, players went bowling to try to shake off a six-game skid. Blatt didn’t have plans for anything like that as his team opened a six-game road swing.

“Sometimes desperation leads to wondrous thinking,” Blatt said. “And I think that was an example of that.”

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland played its fourth game of the season with a starting lineup of James, Love, Tristan Thompson, Smith and Irving and improved to 4-0 with it. … Thompson, who Wittman called a “beast on the boards,” finished with just three rebounds.

Wizards: Nene returned from a 19-game absence with a strained left calf and Gary Neal was back in the lineup after missing five games with a strained right quadriceps muscle. … The crowd of 20,356 was the fifth sellout of the season at Verizon Center.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At Minnesota on Friday night.

Wizards: Host Toronto on Friday night.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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