AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – There’s always something with LeBron James, and Monday night was no different, from the gimme layup he somehow missed after admittedly traveling … to the turnaround, step-back, fadeaway 3-pointer he banked in with 0.3 seconds left to force overtime … to the indignant postgame comments about a report that he’d be OK with trading Kevin Love to acquire Carmelo Anthony.
There was more involving James, who produced a career-high 17 assists and 32 points before fouling out 47 seconds into the extra period. That’s when Kyrie Irving took over, scoring 11 of his 23 points in OT, including a tiebreaking 3 with 35 seconds left, to help the Cleveland Cavaliers edge the Washington Wizards 140-135 in a game that felt more akin to the playoffs in late May than the regular season in early February.
Love provided 39 points, 12 rebounds and the length-of-the-court pass that led to James’ “He did what?!” 3 at the end of regulation.
“LeBron made a heck of a shot,” Wizards guard John Wall said, “that you probably make one in a million times.”
It put the reigning NBA champion Cavs in position to end surging Washington’s winning streaks of 17 in a row at home and seven in a row overall.
When Love shot free throws in the third quarter, a small section of spectators sang, “Bron wants Melo,” a reference to a New York Daily News report citing an unidentified source that said James is pushing the Cavs to get Anthony from the Knicks – even if it means sending Love to New York.
Asked about the story, the four-time NBA MVP replied: “It’s trash. And the guy who wrote it is trash, too, for writing that.”
For his part, Love posted a quote from Winston Churchill on his Instagram account: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.”
Bradley Beal had 41 points and eight assists for the Wizards, but he missed a potential tying 3 with about 5 seconds left in OT.
It was a back-and-forth contest, with little runs by each team, plenty of offense, lapses on defense, a lot of complaints about the officiating by folks on both sides and a couple of technical fouls.
All in a hyped-up atmosphere that several players likened to the postseason.
“You have it circled on your schedule for a long time,” Beal said about facing the Cavs. “That was definitely a test and a battle for us. We did a tremendous job of handling it.”
With 12.2 seconds left, and Washington up 118-117, James drove past Wall, aided by an extra step that he said “kind of threw me off of my rhythm,” and somehow flubbed a wide-open layup.
After Wall’s foul shots made it 120-117 with 3.4 ticks left, Love got the ball to James on a play the Cavaliers call “Touchdown.” James’ 3 went off the glass and through the net as he landed out of bounds – setting the stage for Irving to pull out the victory in OT.
Cavaliers G Iman Shumpert left the game with an ankle injury. … Wall said he was bleeding a bit and felt dizzy after taking a head butt to the mouth in the game.
The Wizards entered with the NBA’s best record over the past month (14-2) and looked at this game as a chance to show that they could hang with the Cavs. Afterward, Wall and Beal both said they heard praise from James, Irving and Co. “They all said it,” Beal said.
Cavaliers: James became the first player in NBA history to rank in the top 20 in points (eighth), assists (13th) and steals (20th).
Wizards: C Ian Mahinmi is “getting closer” to a return after missing all but one game this season with injuries to both knees, coach Scott Brooks said.
Cavaliers: At the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
Wizards: At the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
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