Taking advantage of a rare day off for LeBron James, the Washington Wizards got a much-needed victory in their bid to move into playoff position, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-99 on Sunday behind John Wall's 21 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.
Attacking from the start, Wall made 8 of 11 shots and came out on top in his matchup against opposing point guard Kyrie Irving, who wound up with 28 points and six assists on 9-of-20 shooting.
At one point late in the third quarter, Wall had the same number of assists as the entire Cavs team, 12, and he sat out the fourth quarter.
It was the second consecutive loss for Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland, which is in the middle of a stretch of three games in four days.
That busy schedule was one of the reasons coach Tyronn Lue gave for resting James, who had skipped only one other game this season, on Dec. 5 at Miami.
Already ahead by nine at halftime, the Wizards broke things open with a 9-0 run to start the second half, taking a 72-54 lead on a 3-pointer by Otto Porter Jr., who wound up scoring 21. When Porter and Wall then made consecutive 3s, Washington's margin grew to 25 points at 88-63 with under 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter, and that was pretty much that.
While the Cavaliers entered the day 41-16 and two games ahead of Toronto for the top spot in the East, the Wizards came in with a 27-30 record and 10th in the conference, 2 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff berth.
After alternating wins and losses in its previous five games, but now as healthy as it's been all season, Washington showcased the small-ball style it's been implementing. Wall cemented his 34th double-double midway through the third quarter.
Washington led 35-28 after the first quarter and 63-54 at halftime en route to a season-high five-game home winning streak.
It helped, of course, that James was sitting at the far end of the visitor's sideline in sweats. While Lue addressed other players during a first-quarter timeout, James meandered over to greet former Cavs teammate Drew Gooden, who's now a reserve with the Wizards.
The teams play each other again Friday night in Cleveland.
Ted Leonsis, owner of the Wizards and the NHL's Washington Capitals, planned to be multitasking Sunday, taking in his basketball team's game in person while monitoring his league-best hockey team's 3-2 loss at the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Leonsis tweeted: "If I am looking at my phone today at the Wizards game, it's because I am checking on (hash)capshawks. Don't be offended."
Cavaliers: Richard Jefferson started at forward in place of James and finished with 10 points and five rebounds. ... Cleveland made only 9 of 29 3-point attempts. ... Signed G Jordan McRae to a 10-day contract. The 6-foot-6 McRae, an NBA Development League All-Star this year, played in the fourth quarter.
Wizards: F J.J. Hickson made his team debut in the fourth quarter; the team signed him Thursday. ... F Alan Anderson checked in as a substitute late in the first quarter, his first home action of the season after having surgery on his left ankle. ... G Gary Neal missed his eighth consecutive game because of a sore right leg.
Cavaliers: Host Indiana on Monday.
Wizards: Host Philadelphia on Monday.