WASHINGTON — It took 140 points, 53 minutes and a career-high 17 assists from LeBron James for the first-place Cavaliers to dispatch the Wizards 140-135 in overtime at Verizon Center Monday night.
A game that was moved into the national spotlight, the Wizards proved on TNT, against the best team in the Eastern Conference, that their 17-game home win streak — which is now over — and their 14 wins over their previous 16 games were no fluke. These Wizards are serious contenders in the east.
Washington had a one-point lead and Cleveland on the ropes with time nearly expired in regulation; only 12.2 seconds remained, and James seemed to ensure his team’s defeat when he missed a wide-open left-handed layup with 4.9 seconds left on the clock.
Kyle Korver quickly fouled John Wall, who made both free throws to extend the Wizards’ lead to three points with 3.4 second remaining. A Washington victory was within reach.
Until James ripped it away.
Kevin Love connected with James on a perfect inbound pass across the length of the court. James, with his back to the basket in the corner of the court, turned and unleashed a miracle three falling out of bounds which kissed off the backboard and dropped into the hoop, tying the game at 120 points apiece beyond all reasonable human expectation.
It would take all five extra minutes — and six lead changes — for the Cavaliers to outlast the Wizards in overtime.
The Wizards may have lost the game, but they have indeed arrived.