CLEVELAND (AP)—LeBron James showered, dressed and then sat down to analyze the evening’s boxscore.
With so many eye-popping digits to digest, it took longer than usual.
A whole lot longer.
James scored 23 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 24 without missing from the floor and the Cleveland Cavaliers destroyed the Washington Wizards 121-85 on Wednesday night for their season-high fifth straight victory.
“Offensively we were unbelievable, nearly perfect,” James said. “It was pretty dang gone good.”
Ilgauskas went 10-of-10 from the field, blocked three shots and spent the entire fourth quarter resting on the bench as the Cavs set season highs in margin of victory, assists (39), points in a quarter (43) and field-goal percentage (56).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cavaliers, who had a season-low six turnovers, are the first team since 1977-78—when turnovers became an official statistic—to have at least 39 assists and six or fewer turnovers.
Cleveland put on a clinic in the third quarter. The Cavs scored 43 points on 16-of-22 shooting to go along with 19 rebounds, 14 assists and zero turnovers. They also went 10-of-10 from the line.
After an uninspiring first two months, the Cavaliers have regrouped to win 11 of 13, and at the halfway point, they look more determined to defend their Eastern Conference title than at any other time this season.
“Great teams know when to crank it up,” said James, who added eight rebounds and eight assists in just 31 minutes.
It was Cleveland’s most lopsided win since beating the Los Angeles Lakers by 38 on Nov. 30, 1994.
The Wizards came in 7-2 in their last nine and were expected to give the Cavs a much tougher test. Instead, Washington played perhaps its worst game of the season.
“It was painful, bordering on embarrassing,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “They really brought it to us and we didn’t respond. We weren’t quick enough, we weren’t strong enough and we weren’t athletic enough.”
The Cavs led 52-46 at halftime before shredding Washington’s defense during the third. Cleveland shot 70 percent from the floor in the period against the Wizards, who stood around like department store mannequins on defense as the Cavs set an arena record for points in a quarter.
On one possession, the Cavaliers grabbed three offensive rebounds and each time passed the ball out to the wing to fire up wide-open 3-pointers. None of them dropped, but the sequence didn’t please Jordan.
Later, Larry Hughes drove down the lane as four Wizards watched him deliver a two-handed dunk.
With his team leading 95-63 after three, Cavs coach Mike Brown emptied his bench so his starters could get some down time. They’ll need it with the running-and-gunning Phoenix Suns coming to town on Friday.
The Wizards have taken pride in playing better defense of late. Well, it was almost nonexistent for much of the first half as the Cavaliers shot 74 percent from the floor in the first quarter and hovered around 60 percent until just before half.
Washington, though, was able to stay within striking distance thanks to a nice boost from its bench, which contributed 18 points.
But beginning with an 11-1 spurt after halftime, the Cavaliers quickly seized control and turned the game into a laugher.
“It was a major league butt whipping,” Wizards guard Antonio Daniels said. “We ought to be completely embarrassed.”
Wizards rookie guard Nick Young enjoyed one of the top moments of his brief pro career—and Washington’s best highlight of the night—when he got free down the lane and dunked hard over James, who is usually the one posterizing players with slams.
Ilgauskas (15) and James (13) combined for 28 points on 11-of-12 shooting as the Cavaliers opened a 34-26 lead after one.
Pavlovic sprained his left foot in the third quarter and did not return. He will undergo an MRI on Thursday. … Ilgauskas’ perfect night was just the second in Cavs history by a player with at least 10 field-goal tries. Johnny Warren went 12-of-12 on Dec. 14, 1973, against Buffalo. … James said his soon-to-be-released New York Yankees-inspired sneakers, which have upset some Cleveland fans, are nothing more than “a tribute to one of the greatest franchises in sports. It’s just me being a fan.” So, does he plan to pay homage to the Dallas Cowboys, his favorite NFL team? “No,” he joked, “they didn’t make the Super Bowl.” … The Eastern Conference standings are posted on one wall of Cleveland’s locker room. At 8-32, Miami is at the bottom, a fact that stuns James. “If you look at that team, they look like they have a little more talent than us,” James said. “I don’t know how you can be 8-32. It’s definitely tough.”