After another close loss in their most recent outing, the Lakers hosted the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. Both teams came into the game with recent struggles as the Lakers had lost eight of their last 11 games while the Cavs had lost nine of 10.
Both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James made their returns to the court on Tuesday night, though both were unable to carry their teams to a victory. The Cavs still boast a talented roster that was bolstered with their recent additions of J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov, and Iman Shumpert.
The Lakers came into the game with a record of 12-27 while the Cavs came in at 19-20, much worse than what was expected when the team came together in the off-season.
The Lakers, for the second straight game got off to a slow start as the Cavs jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, but Kobe answered with a mid-range jumper to make it 6-2. J.R. Smith got going with back-to-back threes and fastbreak layup from Irving put Cleveland up 14-4. Kobe did a good job facilitating early as he hit Jordan Hill twice and Wesley Johnson for a corner three to cut the Cavs lead to 19-12. Kobe hit Boozer for a midrange jumper to cut the Cavs lead to 21-17. Price free throws and a Kobe jumper in transition tied the game with three minutes remaining. Boozer hit his second jumper to put the Lakers ahead before Mozgov matched it on the other end. Kobe notched his seventh assist, this one to Tarik Black to put the Lakers back ahead as both offenses began to pick it up. Smith and Kobe each hit threes, Kobe got another assist to Black, and Kyrie Irving got four late points. The result of everything was a tie game, 30-30 at the end of the first.
The Lakers offense continued its hot shooting to start the second as Boozer hit a jumper, and Lin had back-to-back baskets to give the Lakers a five point lead. LeBron missed four straight free throws and Nick Young hit a three to push the Lakers lead to 40-32. Consistent trips to the free throw line allowed Cleveland to cut into the lead and a floater from LeBron cut the Lakers lead to three. LeBron hit a layup, but Kelly matched him on the other end to keep the Lakers ahead by three, but a LeBron and-one tied the score midway through the quarter. The Cavs capped a 13-2 run with a beautiful pass from LeBron to Love to give the Cavs a four-point lead. Nick Young would end that with a jumper over Smith and a foul to cut the lead to one. Jordan Hill continued his great shooting night with a fadeaway and Kobe hit Johnson for an easy layup, but Irving responded with a layup of his own and a beautiful jumper to keep Cleveland ahead by two. Kobe got an easy layup to put LA ahead by a point with under three minutes left. Ed Davis had a beautiful tip-in and Kobe hit Davis for his 10th assist as the Lakers stayed ahead by a point. Kobe hit a contested three over Love to give him a first half double-double as the Lakers went into the half with a 61-57 lead.
The Cavs got started quickly, much like the first half as LeBron hit a three and Irving hit a fadeaway to give the Cavs a one point lead. Kobe hit Hill for a jumper to give the Lakers the lead back. LeBron went baseline for a layup and Smith hit a jumper to put Cleveland back ahead by three, but another assist from Kobe to Hill kept the Lakers within one. The Kobe-Hill connection continued as Kobe picked up his 13th assist to keep the game close. Price’s strong finish over Mozgov put the Lakers back ahead by a point. Both offenses stalled for a couple of minutes due to turnovers and forced shots as the Lakers remained ahead. Free throws pushed Cleveland ahead briefly, but the Lakers quickly matched. A tough LeBron three put Cleveland up, but Lin free throws cut the lead to one. Another LeBron three put Cleveland ahead by four 79-75 at the end of the third.
Kevin Love hit a three to start the quarter off for the Cavs, but Lin had an excellent drive to answer. LeBron would hit a tough runner and Boozer split a pair of free throws as the Lakers trailed by six. The Lakers continued to struggle early in the quarter offensively and a three from Dellavedova put the Cavs up double-digits. Lin hit Black for a crucial layup, but he missed the free throw. Black made a pair of free throws and a Young layup cut the lead to seven, but LeBron hit a huge three to put Cleveland back up 10. The Lakers struggled to cut into the lead and an Irving jumper put Cleveland back ahead 11 midway through the quarter before Kobe checked back in. Kobe hit Hill for his 16th assist, giving him a career-high, but the Lakers remained behind by nine. A Kobe drive followed by a huge three from Wes cut the Cavs lead to six with three minutes left. Thompson got an offensive rebound and dunk to give the Cavs a cushion and Marion free throws put Cleveland right back up by nine. Kobe made a big three to cut the Lakers deficit to six with under two minutes remaining. LeBron missed back-to-back shots, but Kobe was fouled on a three-point attempt. He made two of three free throws to cut the Cavs lead to four. LeBron, however, made a clutch layup to put Cleveland up six with 20 seconds left. Kobe’s three rimmed out and the Lakers were forced to foul. Smith made both free throws, but Nick Young hit a three to give the Lakers a slight hope. LeBron made both free throws to basically ice the game. Kelly missed a desperation three and two more free throws gave Cleveland a 109-102 win.
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