The Los Angeles Lakers roll into Cleveland for a meeting with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It certainly won’t be an east night, but the Lakers are finally back to their winning ways after snapping their eight-game losing streak against the Philadelphia 76ers.
D’Angelo Russell is being rested on the second night of a back-to-back, and Brandon Ingram started in his place alongside Nick Young, Luol Deng, Julius Randle, and Timofey Mozgov (who received his championship ring from the Cavs before the game). Kevin Love opened the scoring with a nice running hook across the lane, but Deng responded with a short jumper a few plays later.
The Lakers took the lead on a nice left-handed drive by Young and then a jump-hook by Mozgov after Love misfired from deep. The Lakers used some elements of a zone defense to start the game and it worked as Cleveland missed some early looks from the perimeter.
Julius Randle, in particular, had it going with six early points on 3-4 shooting from the field to go along with two assists.
Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. came into the game for Deng and Mozgov, and Clarkson immediately hit a runner on the baseline. The Cavs answered back with a three from J.R. Smith, but a Randle fast break brought the lead to 20-15 in favor of the Lakers.
Just as Los Angeles was getting into a rhythm, Kyrie Irving got free in a pick-and-roll and found Tristan Thompson for a dunk, prompting a timeout from Luke Walton.
Walton brought in Lou Williams in place or Randle, and with the Lakers going small a Nance screen freed up Nick Young to drain a three. Ingram got a block that was called a goaltend, but on the next trip down Williams used his magical foul-drawing skills to get three free throws, of which he made two.
Love scored on consecutive possessions for the Cavs, but Williams kept the Lakers in the lead with a pair of free throws and an assist to Ingram. Iman Shumpert ended the quarter with a costly three, but the Lakers had the lead, 31-26.
The Lakers started the second quarter with Deng in for Ingram. A solid defensive play by Young stopped what would have been a wide-open three for the Cavs, but Williams got burned on a Shumpert drive and a turnover on what should have been an easy rebound for the Lakers tied the game. Richard Jefferson knocked in a three and the momentum completely swung to the Cavs, who lead 34-31.
The Cavs continued their run, pushing it to 15-0 in the second. A Randle layup got the Lakers on the board, but Cleveland came right back and scored again.
Still, by that point, the Cavs offense was in high gear, and it fueled their defensive intensity. As the Lakers missed shots due to improved defense from Cleveland it created easier looks for the Cavs on the other end in transition, and a three by Shumpert brought the lead up to nine.
Williams got himself three free throws again and a Young three brought the Lakers back to within two, but a questionable whistle for Irving gifted a pair of free throws to the Cavs. An Irving three in transition brought the lead right back up to nine.
Randle hit a tough turnaround on the baseline, but the Lakers continued to have to fight for open looks. A Young three after a stop brought the score to 54-50 with just under three minutes to play in the quarter.
A Deng turnover led to a Smith three in transition, but he was able to make amends on the next play by making one of his own. Unfortunately, Smith hit again the next time down, and Young was unable to answer. The Lakers got a stop and then attacked in transtion, with Young dishing to Randle who finished with a pretty spin move in the paint. A tip-in from Love looked to be the final score of the half, but Clarkson was able to race down the floor and get a layup to bring the Lakers within three, 62-59.
The Lakers went back to their starting five for the beginning of the third but had three quick turnovers plus a pair of threes from Smith and Love to expand the Cavs’ lead. Young hit a three of his own, but Love got yet another off of an Irving drive, and Thompson followed a James miss to give Cleveland a 73-62 lead.
Deng and Young connected on threes to keep the Lakers close, but Cleveland clearly had the momentum. Ingram got into the paint and found Mozgov, but the big Russian missed an easy dunk. The Lakers were able to score on a broken play, but the Cavs found Love again for another wide-open three, his third of the game.
Ingram was able to hit a mid-range jumper to keep the Lakers within seven. The Lakers over-rotated on the next play and that led to a James dunk. A Love and one that clearly should have been called an offensive foul pushed the Cavs lead to nine, 84-75. Compounding things, the play was Young’s fifth foul, sending the Lakers’ hottest scorer to the bench.
Irving hit a three but Clarkson answered on the other end as the Cavs were hoping to pull away. Out of a timeout, Clarkson was able to find a cutting Deng for a layup, and an Ingram three brought the lead to four. Irving hit a runner, but a Deng jumper kept the lead to 89-85 at the end of the third.
Unfortunately, one of Deng’s layups was reviewed during the break and was shown to have come after the 24-second clock expired, immediately taking two points away from the Lakers before the quarter even started. A pair of threes from the Cavs made things worse, and while Deng answered with one of his own, the score was still 95-86.
Clarkson hit a nice step back jumper and Williams hit a runner for shockingly his first field goal of the game, and a Deng tip-in brought the Lakers to within five. Shumpert hit a jumper and then poor defense from the Lakers allowed a James dunk, and suddenly the lead was nine again. It seemed as though every time the Lakers scored they gave up a basket to the Cavs on the other end.
Clarkson hit a big three floating to his left, but true to form, the Lakers gave up an Irving jumper on the next possession. Williams had a great steal, then quickly got the ball to Ingram, who hit Young for a three. The Cavs called timeout and scored quickly on a James post-up, but another Young three brought the score to 108-105.
Williams had to force up a tough shot, and the Cavs ran off the rebound to get LeBron to the line, where he made one. To the delight of no one in Los Angeles, James then came back after a Young miss to hit a three and push the score to 113-105 and force a Lakers timeout.
The Lakers missed on the ensuing possession, and a Love offensive rebound and finish on the other end all but wrapped it up. James scored on a drive to the basket, but the Lakers continued to hustle as though the game was still there for the taking.
Young hit a three, but the Cavs walked away with the win, 119-108.