When he is on, Carmelo Anthony is still one of the most explosive scorers in the NBA and with the Los Angeles Lakers flirting with another loss in this rough start to the season, he came through in a big way.
Anthony scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and knocked down 6-of-8 from 3-point range while LeBron James returned to the court with 26 points and 8 assists as the Lakers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-101. The win brought the Lakers’ record back to .500 at 3-3.
The Lakers looked on their way to another disappointing loss early on as their defense surrendered continual easy looks to Cleveland, falling behind by double-digits in the first half. But Frank Vogel would turn to Avery Bradley, who was the ultimate difference-maker, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Bradley scored just seven points, but was a game-high +30 on the night and completely changed the energy for the Lakers overall. He played a large part in holding the Cavaliers backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland to a combined 8-of-23 shooting and added a highlight putback dunk as well.
The Lakers also got another inspired effort from emerging fan-favorite Austin Reaves. The undrafted rookie also scored just seven points, but much like Bradley, brought energy and fight that the Lakers seemed to be missing early on.
Russell Westbrook had a solid outing, hitting 8-of-13 from the field for 19 points, six rebounds and five assists while Anthony Davis added 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, the last of which was an absolute highlight-reel denial of Lauri Markkanen late in the ballgame.
Fifteen first-half turnovers put the Lakers in an early hole and that along with 10 offensive rebounds gave Cleveland numerous extra possessions, although L.A. was able to go into the half tied thanks to a late run. The Lakers had just five turnovers in the second half and held Cleveland to just 16 points in the fourth quarter to finally put the feisty Cavaliers away.
The Lakers were surely happy to have James back on the court and though he struggled from deep, hitting just 1-of010, and led the Lakers with 7 turnovers, he was 9-of012 inside the arc and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line.
A couple of other unsung heroes for the Lakers on this night were Kent Bazemore, who continued to be the Lakers’ premier perimeter defender and had 3 steals on the night, and Dwight Howard, who was a needed physical presence and finished with seven points and four rebounds.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers’ homestand continues with back-to-back games against the Houston Rockets on Sunday and Tuesday nights, followed by a rematch with the Oklahoma City Thunder next Thursday.
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