One game off and few days of rest refreshed the Cavaliers’ Big 3.
LeBron James scored 16 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, Kyrie Irving matched a career high with 12 assists, Kevin Love scored 27 with 17 rebounds and Cleveland finally put away Los Angeles in the fourth quarter, beating the young Lakers 119-108 on Saturday night.
The Cavs were back at full strength after coach Tyronn Lue left James, Love and Irving behind earlier this week for a game in Memphis, a decision that sparked some criticism as fans were denied a chance to see the three stars and Cleveland lost.
Irving, who complained of tired legs before a game last week, looked more like himself in his first game since Dec. 10, finishing with 21 points as the Cavs improved to 19-6.
“It was just a needed rest for me,” said Irving, who didn’t get a break after Cleveland won the NBA title in June because he played for the U.S. Olympic team. “For me, it’s just about being smart and not running into that wall completely. I’m able to push through anything and my mind commands my body at the same time, it’s still about being smart.”
James, Irving and Love combined for 74 points, 30 rebounds and 25 assists.
James took over in the fourth and needs just two points to move past Moses Malone (27,409) for eighth place on the career scoring list.
Nick Young made eight 3-pointers and scored a season-high 32 for the Lakers, who were a headache for the defending NBA champions all night. The Lakers were still within 110-105 when James hit a 3-pointer in transition as the Cavs closed with a 10-3 run.
“Even though we lost, I liked the way we played and what we did,” said Julius Randle, who added 16 points. “They’re a championship team, and we were right there with them until the end.”