After a set of back-and-forth plays in the final minutes of regulation, LeBron James sent the game to overtime with an incredible three-pointer with just 0.3 seconds remaining, as the Cavs' official Twitter account shared:
Kyrie Irving's three-pointer in the final minute of overtime proved to be the game-winner:
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports summed up his thoughts on the game:
The Cavaliers (35-15), first place in the Eastern Conference, snapped the Wizards' 17-game home winning streak and seven-game winning streak overall. Washington fell to 30-21.
James totaled 32 points and a career-high 17 assists while shooting 6-of-8 from three-point range. Kevin Love was as effective as ever, with 39 points and 12 rebounds on 11-of-17 shooting.
Though Irving was relatively quiet for much of the game, he scored 11 points in overtime and finished with 23 points and five assists.
Bradley Beal was the star for Washington with 41 points and eight assists on 16-of-28 shooting. John Wall came through with 22 points and 12 assists, plus a handful of big shots down the stretch, but it was not enough to secure what would have been the biggest win of the season for Washington.
Monday's matchup lived up to expectations from the start, with two of the best teams in the East battling for supremacy.
The Cavs jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first four minutes, but the Wizards bounced back to go up 32-26 by the end of the first quarter.
Otto Porter, who finished with 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-7 from three, helped lead the Wizards to a 57-54 advantage at the end of the first half, as Candace Buckner of the Washington Post described:
As well as the role players performed early, the second half was all about the stars, with both teams relying on just a couple of guys to make big plays.
Beal continued his strong effort with an impressive step-back jumper, as the NBA shared:
Despite the home team's effort, the Cavaliers took an 86-82 lead into the fourth quarter and continued to maintain control.
Grant Hill of Turner Sports described Love's effort:
The two sides then traded baskets in an incredible flurry over the final few minutes of regulation. Three straight three-pointers by James helped the Cavaliers keep pace and tie the game at 110 with less than three minutes remaining.
With the Wizards down 117-116, Wall missed a potential go-ahead layup, but Markieff Morris was there for the putback. After James missed a layup, Washington took a 120-117 lead on two Wall free throws with 3.4 seconds on the clock.
Of course, James stepped up with an incredible game-tying shot. Those watching, including NBA.com's David Aldridge and the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, reacted accordingly:
James fouled out less than a minute into overtime, and shots like this one by Wall gave the home team the lead late, via NBA on TNT:
Irving, however, broke a 133-133 tie with 35 seconds to play, and Beal missed a potential game-tying three with less than five seconds on the clock. Love secured the rebound and made two free throws to clinch the victory.
The Cavaliers will continue their road trip Wednesday with a game against the Indiana Pacers and then face the Oklahoma City Thunder a day later. Following Monday's drama, it might be difficult to get up emotionally for those games.
The Wizards will try to keep the same intensity when they visit the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
Washington was in high spirits after the game.
"That was an instant classic—a great basketball game between two great teams," Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said, per the team's Twitter account. "Unfortunately, we came up just short."
Said Wall: "That was a playoff atmosphere. Our fans were tremendous. They gave us everything they had."
James called it "trash," per Tom Withers of the Associated Press, while head coach Tyronn Lue also gave his thoughts:
The team looked pretty good as assembled Monday.