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Kevin Love helps Cleveland Cavaliers end Washington Wizards' home win streak

By Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
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Kevin Love helps Cleveland Cavaliers end Washington Wizards' home win streak
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) is called for a foul against Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) in the first half at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on February 6, 2017. Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- With LeBron James on the court, the Cleveland Cavaliers are arguably the best team in the league. Over the last month, no NBA team won more than the Washington Wizards. Therefore, when the four-time Most Valuable Player fouled out in overtime for the first time in over three years, the defending champions appeared in trouble. That's when their other playmakers stepped up.

Kevin Love scored 39 points as the Cavaliers stopped the Wizards' 17-game home winning streak with a thrilling 140-135 overtime victory on Monday night.

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Kyrie Irving had 11 of his 23 points in overtime with seven in the final 62 seconds for the Cavaliers (35-15), who forced the extra period on a miraculous game-tying 3-pointer off the backboard by James with three-tenths of a second remaining in regulation.

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James had 32 points and a career-high 17 assists before picking up his sixth foul with 4:13 remaining in the extra session.

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Bradley Beal scored 41 points for the Wizards (30-21), who were 14-2 since Jan. 6. Washington, which had won seven games in a row overall, had not lost a home contest since Dec. 6 against the Orlando Magic.

"It was an instant classic -- a great basketball game by two really good teams," Washington coach Scott Brooks said.

No exaggeration there. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field and made impressive plays all over the court.

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Washington led by as many as five in overtime and 133-131 on Beal's sixth 3-pointer with 1:20 remaining. Irving scored the next five points, including a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left for a 136-133 lead.

Beal missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds remaining. Love hit two free throws to seal the win and finished 11 for 11 from the line.

Cleveland struggled for much of the past month, but has now won three straight and five of six.

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"It's been a good February for us so far after a not-so-good January, " James said. "We wanted to try and continue that tonight against a hot team at their home."

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Otto Porter scored 25 points for the Wizards. John Wall had 22 points and 12 assists.

The sellout crowd roared from the start in what was arguably the biggest regular-season home game for Washington since the Verizon Center opened in 1997. Wall, the No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick in 2010, couldn't think of another when asked following Saturday's 105-91 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

"I think they respect us," Wall said of Cleveland. "That's the most important thing. Throughout the game LeBron said, 'You all are playing some hell of a basketball right now.'"

Markieff Morris scored 15 points for Washington and his putback put the Wizards up 118-117 with 12.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter. James appeared to travel before missing a wide-open layup on Cleveland's next possession and the Cavaliers then trailed 120-117 after two Wall free throws with 3.4 seconds left.

Off a full-court inbounds pass from Love, James forced overtime by banking a step-back 3-pointer.

"The extra step I took, which was a travel, threw me off my rhythm," James stated. "It was a point-blank layup and I missed it. I was blessed to (be) in position where I could make up for it."

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The Wizards had chances to recover, but came up short.

"This is a game we should have won," Wall said. "LeBron made a heck of a shot that he'd probably make one out of a million times. "

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 11 for Washington.

"Kind of have to chalk up to the basketball gods," Oubre said of the James 3-pointer. "He's the greatest player in the league. He's going to hit stuff like that."

James last fouled out on Jan. 10, 2014.

"I just saw us coming together," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue of his team's play without their leading man. "Kyrie was struggling offensively. LeBron fouled out and he put the team on his shoulders."

Tristan Thompson had a season-high 22 points and 12 rebounds. Love also had 12 boards.

Washington started the season with a 2-8 mark, including a 105-94 home loss to Cleveland on Nov. 11. Beal missed that game with an injury. In the rematch, he showed what the Wizards were missing early with 16 points as Washington led 57-54 at halftime despite James' 12 points and 10 assists.

Beal expressed the prevailing thinking in Washington's locker room following the tough loss.

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"We're definitely going to see them down the line."

NOTES: Cavaliers G Iman Shumpert sprained his ankle defending Wizards G Bradley Beal in the third quarter and did not return. ... Washington plays at Brooklyn Wednesday. The Wizards are 2-0 against the Nets, including a 118-113 road win on Dec. 5. ... Cleveland's four-game road trip heads to Indiana. The Cavaliers lost the first meeting 113-103 on Nov. 16. ... The Wizards visit Cleveland March 25.

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