The Cleveland Cavaliers went into the night with the worst record in the NBA they were determined to not roll over for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. James ultimately took control of his homecoming, powering the Lakers to a 109-105 win and 2-1 finish on their road trip.
Unlike their effort against the Miami Heat on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers were largely lethargic. James and Kyle Kuzma combined to carry the scoring load early, but the Cavs led 28-24 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lakers’ deficit grew to 11 points until James checked back in during the second quarter. His 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and finding JaVale McGee in semi-transition for a slam dunk sparked an 11-0 run that tied the game.
The see-saw affair continued throughout the night, with the Lakers’ propensity to turn the ball over aiding the Cavaliers’ efforts.
As he’s shown an ability to, Lonzo Ball turned up his level of aggression in the third quarter and relentlessly attacked the basket. That amounted to eight points in the period, which pushed Ball into double-figures and put him on triple-double watch.
With the Cavs clinging to a one-point lead in the fourth quarter, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson began to assert themselves. Nance threw down an electrifying slam dunk on Brandon Ingram, and that was followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Clarkson.
The Lakers mounted a bit of a run and continued to keep pressure on the Cavaliers until they wilted. James’ 3-pointer tied the game with just under 3 minutes remaining, and his free throws gave the Lakers a lead.
After Cedi Osman’s 3-pointer tied the game, McGee made a left-handed layup to put the Lakers back ahead and preserved their lead with a blocked shot on the Cavs’ next possession. James split a pair of free throws to give him 32 points and extended a lead that ultimately held up.