The Los Angeles Lakers were in desperate need of a win, and when LeBron James returned to the lineup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, they got it. After a truly gruesome first half, the team cleaned things up in the last two quarters and held Cleveland just 16 points in the fourth to claim a 113-101 victory.
The Lakers sort of survived 10 turnovers in the first quarter to finish the frame by just seven points. It kind of improved their second quarter to five turnovers and allowed them to tie the game at 54 before halftime. To help matters, a renewed commitment to get out of the hiatus, including several Showtime-esque sequences from Russell Westbrook and James. If this team is to be successful, they will come in transition often, and they are clearly determined to play with the pace. If they can just find ways to get enough stops to get out and run a bit more, it will definitely help them in games like this.
Things looked less positive to start the third, as the Cavs started very early. But the Lakers reduced their turnovers even further – only spitting the ball five times in the second half – and were able to take a quick lead in the fourth, led not only by James (26 points, 8 assists), Westbrook (19 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds) and Anthony Davis (15 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks), but Austin Reaves’ patented advantage extension off the bench, and a few solid minutes from compatriot Avery Bradley at both ends of the field .
Bradley arguably hit the key blow to fend off the Cavaliers before Carmelo Anthony’s floodgates opened, knocking down a key three with just under five minutes left in the final frame to extend the team’s lead. . Bradley finished the game with 7 of 3-5 points on penalties in 23 minutes, posting an over-under of +30, the team’s highest.
It wasn’t a pretty game for much of the night, but the Lakers can’t be choosy about how their wins are shaping up at this point. And hey, one night when James shot horribly from behind the arc (1-10 shooting depth), he got something he wouldn’t have last year: support. The Lakers shot 42.3% on three as a team on the evening. It was the goal to add shooting, to give themselves leeway in games where their execution and defense are not perfect. In this one, the strategy worked.
The win takes the Lakers to 3-3 this season and will provide good relief from the pressure and scrutiny that was mounting after their embarrassing loss to the Thunder earlier this week. They’ll see if they can make it a winning streak this weekend when they host the Houston Rockets on Halloween.
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