LeBron James made his return to the lineup and it was just what the Los Angeles Lakers needed as they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-101.
The Cavaliers took an early 7-2 lead, though James looked good physically in his return to action as he blew past his defender for a layup. Russell Westbrook nailed a top-of-the-arc three and bullied his way to another lay-in, while Anthony Davis tied the game at 11 after driving against Evan Mobley, welcoming the rookie lottery pick to the league.
Westbrook and Davis made their hay in the paint, attacking the rim each time down the floor and putting the Lakers up by four. However, Los Angeles had a poor close to the quarter as the team had several turnovers and allowed Cleveland to score in transition, putting them down 28-21.
The Lakers defense continued to struggle to begin the second as the Cavaliers made their first seven shots of the period, extending their lead to 11. Los Angeles battled back in the game though as Austin Reaves and James converted on and-one opportunities, and a Kent Bazemore jumper cut the deficit to four.
Carelessness with the basketball prevented the Lakers from generating many positive plays, but fortunately the Cavaliers also struggled with turnovers which allowed them to hang around. Despite playing poorly for most of the half, L.A. managed to pick things up in the final minutes and they went into the half tied 54-54.
The Lakers managed to retake the lead after Westbrook free throws, and James bailed the team out on a broken play by nailing a three from the logo. Despite the good start, Cleveland answered their run and took control of the game again.
Austin Reaves was an offensive spark as he lasered passes to Carmelo Anthony and Westbrook and later buried his first triple. With the energy picking up on both ends, the Lakers closed the third on a 12-0 run and went into the final period up 88-85.
The L.A. defense was more engaged as they held Cleveland to without a field goal at the top of the fourth. The teams ping-ponged the lead as Darius Garland and Anthony traded threes, though the Lakers held the slight edge midway through.
A James and Davis pick-and-roll resulted in an Avery Bradley three that gave L.A. their biggest lead of the night and some breathing room to work with. Anthony caught fire from beyond the arc and a Davis block in transition was enough for the Lakers to pull out the win.
Once the game was out of reach, even Dwight Howard got in on the fun with a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
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