Cavs-Wizards: ‘We can’t let this one go’

By Matt DolloffThe Associated Press – BOSTON (AP) LeBron James’ first two attempts for a career-high 46 points helped propel the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Washington Wizards on Saturday night to advance to the first round of the NBA playoffs.

James’ 37 points tied a season high, but the Cavs won despite missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

They needed to go 8-6 in the regular season, with wins over New Orleans and Milwaukee.

James, who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, had a career high-tying 10 assists.

He finished with 24 points on 7-of-19 shooting and 11 boards, while Josh Smith added 22 points and 12 assists.

J.R. Smith added 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Bradley Beal scored 19 points, but he missed the game with a sore right hamstring.

The Wizards (21-10) have lost four straight games after winning three straight in a row before falling 101-97 at Orlando on Sunday.

“I think it’s an amazing accomplishment for our team,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

“We’ve been a playoff team and we’ve come up short.

It’s a lot of hard work, but we just have to move on and get ready for the second round.”

The Cavaliers shot 59.3 percent, the third-best mark in the NBA.

They had a season-high 45 points off the bench.

“We didn’t do a good enough job,” said forward Kyrie Irving, who was limited to five points on 3-of.

3 shots.

“It’s frustrating.

I think our team did a good job on offense, but on defense, it wasn’t enough.

That’s why we have to work on that.”

The Wizards, who have lost six of seven, have lost five straight against the Cavs, who had won three straight before Friday’s home loss to Toronto.

Washington shot 55.3% for the game, but struggled on defense.

“Our guys made a lot more plays on defense than we did tonight,” Brooks said after the loss.

“You saw it in the second half, but obviously you’ve got to take some of the blame for that.”

James scored 24 points in the first half, including six 3-pointers and seven assists.

His 36 points were the second-highest total in a half for the Cavs.

James missed his first nine shots of the first quarter, when the Cavs had a 14-3 run, including a 3-pointer by Smith with 4:35 left in the period.

But James answered with his best effort in the quarter, hitting a 3 to make it 29-14.

Jordan Crawford, who scored 20 points for the Wizards, hit a 3 for the third straight game, extending his streak to seven games.

“It’s just getting our confidence back,” Crawford said.

“(James) is our best player.

We’re going to have to find a way to beat him.

He’s got to find his rhythm, get his shot off, get some more shots up, and hopefully we can get some momentum going and get some wins in the playoffs.”

Jarrett Jack had 19 points and six rebounds.

The Cavaliers were outscored 27-6 early in the third quarter and then struggled to keep pace.

Washington led by 11 at the break, but Washington pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Irving had 17 points and seven rebounds for his sixth straight double-double.

James scored 21 points off Washington’s three turnovers.

Smith also had 19.

Irving added 19 points for Cleveland, which trailed for the majority of the fourth, before going on a 6-2 run capped by a dunk by Smith that gave the Cavs a 52-50 lead.

Smith was 2 of 7 from 3-point range in the game.

Smith finished with 17 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Smith had nine points in a career low 28 minutes in Saturday’s loss.

Jarrett jack finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, and J.

R Smith added 14 points.

Jared Dudley added 15 points for Washington, which won for the sixth time in seven games following a five-game winning streak.

The Cavs are coming off a 99-97 home loss on Nov. 10 to the Philadelphia 76ers.

They are 0-7 in games against the Cavaliers since the start of the 2010-11 season.

The last time the teams met was Dec. 23, 2012.

Jordan Hamilton added 13 points and eight rebounds for Washington.

Dwayne Bacon added 10 points and five assists.

Nathan Beal had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Jabari Parker had 10 points for Boston.

The Celtics (23-10), who also defeated the Washington Bullets by three in the opening round, have won nine of 11 games.

They face the Washington Warriors in the semifinals on Sunday in Houston.

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