Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers marked their first since the deadline-day trade in February. That brought about significant change for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., who had only known one organization since being drafted in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Nance had already returned to Staples Center for the Slam Dunk Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, and both were on the court last Friday for a game against the Clippers. Facing their former teammates brought about a different feeling, however.
“It was good,” Nance said of his first game back. “Weird to be a visitor on that court.” He enjoyed a productive night — 16 points and eight rebounds — but was part of a Cavaliers defense that had no answer for Julius Randle.
He scored a career-high 36 points and added 14 rebounds and seven assists. “Julius is a great player,” Nance said. “I made sure to tell him that after the game. He’s somebody I’ll definitely stay up with.”
He used the off-day to reunite with Josh Hart, playing the popular video game, ‘Fortnite.’
Clarkson’s first look at the Lakers was one to forget. He had just four points on 1-for-8 shooting, though did manage to dish out four assists. “It was cool. I definitely wanted to win, but they played well tonight. It was a fun game to play,” Clarkson said.
Like Nance, he too praised Randle: “He played well today — aggressive, scoring, rebounding, making players. It was definitely good to see him have a game like that.”
Randle shares a special bond with Clarkson as they were part of the same draft class, and he also grew close with Nance during their time as teammates. “It was weird, man,” Randle said of playing opposite his friends.
“But it was fun. It took me back to the practice days, just talking trash and going at each other. It was fun. Me and Larry, we competed for three straight years.”
Kyle Kuzma felt the night, in part because of the buzz LeBron James brings about, had more electricity and “added jitters.”
Lonzo Ball hadn’t yet spent so much as a full season with Clarkson or Nance, though has fond memories. “I loved it when they were here but now they’re over there,” Ball said.
“They still have a lot of fun. JC is always smiling, Larry is always having a good time. It was nice seeing them again.”