In special shoes, LeBron's triple-double leads Cavaliers past Wizards

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James finished with 20 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Washington Wizards 106-99 on Sunday night for their 18th victory in 19 games.
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Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wears Equality shoes against the Washington Wizards during the first half of their NBA game at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, on December 17, 2017. The Cavs won 106-99.

LeBron James joked that he changed out of his shoes — one black, one white, with "equality" in gold capital letters — at halftime because he was playing poorly.

"If that's a bad game," teammate Kevin Love said, "then sheesh!"

James finished with 20 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Washington Wizards 106-99 on Sunday night for their 18th victory in 19 games, and then said afterward his choice of footwear was related to the game being played about a mile from US President Donald Trump's White House.

"This is a beautiful country and we're never going to let one person dictate how beautiful and how powerful we are," the four-time National Basketball Association MVP said.

James had his fourth triple-double in the past five games despite being called for four fouls in the final quarter.

Still, he offered a scathing self-critique.

"I actually played pretty bad tonight. I wasn't as strong with the ball: I had 6 turnovers. Kind of lazy with the ball, at times," James said. "And my teammates did a great job bailing me out."

Love led Cleveland with 25 points and added 9 rebounds. Jeff Green added 15 points, and Kyle Korver scored 11.

"He just affects the game in so many ways and makes a lot of plays for other guys, too," Love said about James. "He's just setting us up and getting us into our spots. That's what he does. He's our leader."

The last time these teams played, in Washington on November 3, Cleveland won thanks to 57 points from James.

That prompted Wizards coach Scott Brooks to joke before tipoff on Sunday that holding the four-time league MVP to "56 would be pretty good tonight". He also cracked, "I have a lot of respect for Coach (Tyronn) Lue, but I think he's making a bad decision if he doesn't sit LeBron tonight. Back-to-back games, right? Our fans saw 57. They don't need to see any more."

This time, James was more of a facilitator.

"His IQ is the highest I've ever been around," Brooks said afterward. "Just the way he sees the floor."

Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points, and John Wall had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in 32 minutes in his third game back after missing nine with an injured left knee.

In a matchup of Eastern Conference division leaders, neither team led by more than 7 until Wall turned the ball over, leading to a fast break for James, who was fouled at the other end and completed the 3-point play for a 103-94 lead.

That was part of a 23-16 edge for the Cavs in the fourth quarter, which began with the teams tied at 83.

"Against a great team like that, you have to be sharp the whole game," Wizards forward Mike Scott said. "In the fourth, we weren't sharp on the offensive end, and they made plays."

Elsewhere on Sunday, it was: Pistons 114, Magic 110; Raptors 108, Kings 93; and Pacers 109, Nets 97.


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