LOS ANGELES – The Cleveland Cavaliers returned from the NBA All-Star break with a thud Thursday, falling 110-103 to the Washington Wizards despite 32 points from LeBron James.
The Cavs had not lost since trading half a dozen players and receiving four at the February 8 trade deadline, winning four straight heading into the All-Star break.
James, who earned his third All-Star Most Valuable Player award on Sunday in his 14th straight start in the mid-season exhibition, connected on 13 of 18 shots from the floor, pulled down nine rebounds and handed out eight assists.
He became the seventh player in NBA history with 11,000 career baskets, scoring Cleveland's last 14 points in defeat.
“We got some really, really good looks,” James said. “We played hard. I think the legs, being off for nine days kind of got to us, especially after the first quarter.”
The Cavs had led by 12 in the second period, but they finished just eight-of-35 from three-point range as the Wizards, still without injured five-time All-Star point guard John Wall, gained the win.
Bradley Beal scored 18 points to lead the Wizards, who are now half a game behind Cleveland for third place in the Eastern Conference.
Trailing 82-79 going into the fourth, Cleveland took an 89-88 lead on Kyle Korver's three-pointer with 9:42 remaining.
But Washington scored nine straight points to regain the lead.
“It's still a work in progress for us,” James said. “It's not going to be overnight no matter the excitement before the break. We've got a lot of things to work on ... we still played our game, we just didn't make a lot of shots.”