CLEVELAND — Welp, the Cavaliers aren’t going to go 30-0 to end the regular season.
That was established Thursday, as Cleveland’s four-game winning streak came to an abrupt end with a 110-103 loss to the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena.
In also having their three-game win streak on national television come to an end — the game was on TNT — the Cavs got 32 points, nine rebounds and eight assists from LeBron James, who had his team’s last 14 points, and not nearly enough from everyone else.
J.R. Smith added 15 points for the Cavs (34-23) and Tristan Thompson had 12 points and nine boards, but no other Cleveland player had more than nine points in the team’s first game in nine days.
“We’re still a work in progress,” said James, who was 13-for-18 from the field but only 5-for-9 at the line with five turnovers.
James joined Oscar Robertson as the only players with at least 1,500 points and 500 assists in 11 different seasons and also became the seventh player in league history to make 11,000 field goals, but he didn’t get a ton of help from newcomers George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr., who were making their Cleveland debuts at The Q.
Hill was 2-for-10 from the field, Hood had a wide-open corner 3-pointer that would have made it a two-point game clang off the side of the backboard and Clarkson had one point in the second half. Nance had three dunks, but only four rebounds.
“I don’t think it was the pressure,” Clarkson said. “We played well. Some shots just didn’t fall.”
The Wizards (34-24), who are a half-game back of the Cavs in the battle for the third seed in the Eastern Conference, got 18 points and nine assists from Bradley Beal, 17 points and eight assists from Tomas Satoransky, 17 points off the bench from Kelly Oubre and 15 points and eight boards from Otto Porter.
Washington made 12-of-30 3-pointers (.400), while the Cavs were a dreadful 8-for-35 (.229). Cleveland was 34-for-49 from inside the arc (.694) en route to shooting .500 overall.
“We got some good looks,” said Hood, who had eight points. “Some of them didn’t go down. And they hit shots, which magnified it.”
Due to a lack of offensive flow and some defensive breakdowns, the Cavs trailed 97-89 with 6:12 left following a 3-pointer by Oubre and a dunk by Ian Mahinmi, forcing coach Tyronn Lue to call timeout.
The Cavs eventually fell behind by 11 with 3:44 remaining, but came charging back behind James, who scored 12 straight Cleveland points to make it a 104-101 game with 1:19 remaining.
Porter then scored on a reverse layup off an inbounds play before James answered with another power move inside, but Beal came right back with an uncontested drive down the middle to put Washington up 108-103 with 28 seconds left.
James missed a free throw with 17.4 ticks on the clock and then appeared to miss the second on purpose, but was called for a lane violation, which had fans heading to the exits.
“We can be really good,” James said. “We’ll see. We have (25) games to figure it out.”
The Wizards outscored the Cavs 60-48 over the middle quarters to take an 82-79 lead into the fourth.
Cleveland wasn’t terrible, but lacked player and ball movement that too often resulted in bad shots by the wrong people near the end of the 24-second clock. Midway through the quarter, Hill led the team in field goal attempts, and he was 2-for-9 from the floor.
The Cavs were up 12 and playing well midway through the second quarter, but some bad defensive habits resurfaced and Washington led 57-54 at halftime.
The Wizards, who were 1-for-8 on 3-pointers in the first period, made 6-of-9 from deep in scoring 35 points in the second quarter, when the Cavs failed to get back on defense after missing shots or committing turnovers.
“There’s still going to be some bumps in the road,” Lue said.
There weren’t any early on, as the suddenly revitalized Smith continued his torrid first-quarter play with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting (1-for-3 3-pointers) in helping the Cavs take a 31-22 lead.
Over the last six games, the 14th-year pro has scored 56 points in the first period on 21-for-25 shooting from the field, including 14-for-16 3-pointers.
The Cavs, though, weren’t able to sustain, as they followed their 31-point first period with quarter scoring totals of 23, 25 and 24.
“Washington’s a good team,” Nance said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to overreact.”
Wizards 110, Cavaliers 103
WASHINGTON (110): Porter Jr. 6-11 0-0 15, Morris 4-10 0-0 9, Gortat 3-6 0-0 6, Satoransky 6-7 4-4 17, Beal 8-19 0-0 18, Oubre Jr. 6-12 2-2 17, Scott 4-10 0-0 8, Mahinmi 3-7 2-2 8, Frazier 1-2 0-0 2, Meeks 3-8 2-2 10. Totals 44-92 10-10 110.
CLEVELAND (103): James 13-18 5-9 32, Osman 2-7 0-0 4, Thompson 6-7 0-0 12, Hill 2-10 2-3 6, JR Smith 6-12 0-0 15, Nance Jr. 3-4 0-2 6, Green 2-6 1-1 5, Clarkson 3-7 3-4 9, Korver 2-6 0-0 6, Hood 3-7 0-0 8. Totals 42-84 11-19 103.
Washington 22 35 25 28 — 110
Cleveland 31 23 25 24 — 103
3-Point Goals—Washington 12-30 (Porter Jr. 3-5, Oubre Jr. 3-6, Meeks 2-4, Beal 2-5, Satoransky 1-1, Morris 1-6, Frazier 0-1, Scott 0-2), Cleveland 8-35 (JR Smith 3-8, Hood 2-5, Korver 2-6, James 1-4, Osman 0-2, Clarkson 0-3, Green 0-3, Hill 0-4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Washington 43 (Porter Jr., Morris 8), Cleveland 36 (Thompson, James 9). Assists—Washington 29 (Beal 9), Cleveland 20 (James 8). Total Fouls—Washington 23, Cleveland 15. A—20,562 (20,562).