WASHINGTON -- Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half and Tristan Thompson scored the go-ahead 3-point play with 24.4 seconds remaining as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Washington Wizards 87-84 on Wednesday night at Verizon Center.
Thompson had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have won two games in a row -- both without center Anderson Varejao -- after losing 11 of 12. Cleveland (7-23) improved to 9-2 in their last 11 games against Washington.
The Wizards, losers of eight straight, fell to a NBA worst 3-23 record. Out of the starting lineup for the first time in nine games after violating a team rule, Jordan Crawford scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half for Washington. Emeka Okafor also scored 17 points and Nene had 16.
Trailing 79-73 with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Irving's jump sparked a 9-0 run and Dion Waiters 3-pointer put the Cavaliers up 82-79. Washington went scoreless for more than four minutes until Okafor's jump hook with 1:50 left. After Irving missed a pair of free throws, the Wizards center split a pair, tying the game at 82-82 with 46 seconds remaining.
On Cleveland's next possession, Irving penetrated before dishing to a cutting Thompson, who powered home a rim-rattling layup despite being fouled on the baseline drive. Irving missed two of four free throws inside the final 10 seconds, but Crawford missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Anderson Varejao, the NBA's leading rebounder, missed his fourth consecutive game for the Cavaliers with a right knee contusion. Behind the Brazilian big man, Cleveland dominated the glass in its 94-84 season-opening win over Washington. In the rematch, the Wizards returned the favor 51-38, however Washington also committed 20 turnovers.
In his first game since his recall from the D-League, Shelvin Mack started in place of Crawford, Washington's leading scorer Jordan Crawford.
Mack, the Wizards 2011 second-round pick, had six points and seven assists in 28 minutes. With the former Butler star directing the offense, Washington jumped out to a 22-10 lead. The home team also committed 12 turnovers, helping Cleveland charge back. So did Irving's potent scoring. Cleveland's point guard scored 12 points in the second quarter as the rallying Cavaliers entered halftime leading 45-43.
Daniel Gibson and Alonzo Gee each scored 10 points for the Cavaliers.
NOTES: In 26 games, the Wizards have used 11 different starting lineups. ... The Wizards added D-League guard Garrett Temple on Tuesday. The former Reno Bighorn scored two points in 19 minutes. ... Varejao grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds in the Cavaliers' season-opening win over Washington. Cleveland finished that game with a 54-39 edge on the boards. ... Like many Christmas holiday travelers, Shaun Livingston had a hectic schedule, just not be design. Released by the Wizards on Saturday, the veteran guard flew to his home in Los Angeles over the weekend. Cleveland claimed Livingston off waivers Tuesday, putting the journeyman back on a plane. He met the Cavaliers in Washington on Wednesday. ... The Eastern Conference squads meet for the third and final team this season on March 12 in Cleveland....The Cavaliers host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the same day the Wizards face visiting the Orlando Magic.