James hits milestone in 11-point win
WASHINGTON — For all of LeBron James’ achievements, from MVP awards to NBA championships, the hootin’ and hollerin’ coming from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room Friday night — and the water dumped on No. 23 by teammates — was to mark a relatively obscure milestone: youngest NBA player to reach 27,000 career points.
“They lied to me. They said that Coach (Tyronn) Lue had accomplished something, and they were going to douse him. And I was kind of surprised, like, ‘What happened? You guys are going to mess up his suit,'” James said with a smile. “And then … they rushed me and got all my clothes wet and everything.”
The impromptu celebration capped a perfect trip to the nation’s capital for the Cavs, who added a win to their White House visit by beating the Washington Wizards 105-94 as James had 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. He made three of Cleveland’s 14 3-pointers.
At 31, James is about 1¢ years younger than Kobe Bryant was when he became the previous youngest to 27,000 points.
“That’s NBA history, man. It’s truly an honor to be part of the journey like that,” said teammate Kyrie Irving, who scored 29 for Cleveland and helped hold Washington’s John Wall to only five of his 28 points after halftime. “And he’s really just humble about it.”
Adding a bit of humor to the proceedings, Irving noted: “It also tells you that he’s been in the league for a while.”
A day after being feted as NBA champions by President Barack Obama, the Cavaliers improved to 7-1 this season, recovering quickly from their only loss, which came against Atlanta on Tuesday.
Kevin Love contributed 14 points and 16 rebounds, while J.R. Smith’s 17 points included five 3s. One gave Cleveland its biggest margin of the game, at 84-72 with a minute remaining in the third quarter.
Wall noted the stats from 3-point range: The Cavs were 14 of 33; the Wizards were 3 of 15, barely attempting more than their opponents made.
“That’s basically the game,” Wall said, “right there.”
Cavaliers: James clutched at his lower right back after getting fouled with 7 1/2 minutes left, but remained in the game. … Smith was called for a Flagrant-1 foul in third quarter.
Wizards: Fell to 2-6. … SG Bradley Beal sat out with a tight right hamstring. He was replaced in the lineup by Marcus Thornton, who scored two points in 21 minutes. … F Otto Porter Jr., who had a 34-point, 14-rebound effort against Boston on Wednesday, had 11 points and eight rebounds Friday.
Wizards substitute Kelly Oubre Jr. scored the team’s last eight points of the first quarter, which ended with the hosts ahead 31-26.
“It’s my job to be ready whenever my name is called,” Oubre said. “I can’t worry about minutes. I can’t worry about nothing else.”
A sellout crowd of 20,356 saved its loudest cheers for when two free throws missed by Love meant spectators would be able to get a free fast-food chicken sandwich.
“When you get a chance to meet the President of the United States — and he knows your first name and last name, and knows your stats and how you play and who you are as a person — it just means a lot,” Lue said.
Cavaliers: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. Cleveland won three of four against Charlotte last season.
Wizards: At the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. Wall will sit out for the second time in the second game of a back-to-back set this season, part of Washington’s effort to manage his minutes after offseason operations on both knees. Coach Scott Brooks wasn’t sure who would start in Wall’s place — or whether Beal would be available.