Published May 02, 2016
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - In a battle of future Hall of Famers, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant did not disappoint on Thursday at Staples Center.
It was James and company, however, who got the best of the seasoned veteran Bryant.
James totaled 36 points with five rebounds and five assists in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 109-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"LeBron is an amazing basketball player," Lakers coach Byron Scott said.
Kyrie Irving supplied 22 points and Kevin Love added 17 points despite dealing with back spasms as the Cavs snapped their season-high six-game losing streak.
Coming off one of the worst shooting performances of his career, Bryant had a phenomenal game getting his teammates involved. He scored 19 points and deposited a career-high 17 assists, but his efforts could not keep the Lakers from dropping their third straight game.
Cleveland coach David Blatt was under fire recently and criticized of his control of the team, prompting the notion that his job may not be too secure. He rallied his troops for at least one game, though, with help from his star.
"We locked in defensively in the second half," Blatt said. "We got stops and we took care of the basketball. We're not out of the mud yet, but we're going to be."
James buried 3-pointers around a pair of Jeremy Lin free throws to push the Cavs in front, 79-75, entering the fourth. James continued to assert himself in the fourth, following a Love 3 with a basket and a pair of free throws before assisting on Matthew Dellavedova's trey that made it an 89-78 game with 9:11 left.
"I feel good. I was able to attack the paint," James said. "We have to scratch right from the beginning. We picked up our intensity in the third quarter. Any win is huge."
Los Angeles couldn't seem to make much headway until Wesley Johnson canned a corner triple to cut the deficit to six, but Tristan Thompson cleaned up a James miss at the other end to keep Cleveland in front, 102-94, with 2:48 remaining.
Bryant kept Los Angeles close with a 3-pointer to make it a six-point spread, then made two at the line after Shawn Marion fouled him from beyond the arc with 43.5 seconds on the clock.
James proceeded to drive the lane with Bryant defending, slice through a couple of Lakers and convert a layup that essentially sealed it.
"They made it less comfortable for us in the third quarter. They countered with good defense," Lin said.
Earlier, J.R. Smith knocked down successive 3-pointers as the Cavs jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the early going. Los Angeles used a 10-0 run later in the quarter to take its first lead at 23-21.
Both teams entered the second quarter tied at 30-30.
Lin and Nick Young hit back-to-back 3s during a 10-2 run to open the second, but Cleveland responded with a 14-2 burst as Love's dunk at the midway point gave the Cavs a 46-42 lead.
Bryant, who dished out 10 assists in the first half, capped the second quarter with a 3-pointer in front of Love to give the Lakers a 61-57 lead at the break.
Bryant had 15 assists in a 103-94 win over the Washington Wizards on Feb. 12, 2002 ... James has won 13 of the last 16 matchups against Bryant dating back to 2006 ... Jordan Hill had a team-high 20 points for LA ... Cleveland scored 12 points off 12 turnovers ... Smith scored 14 points in the win ... There were 16 lead changes and 11 ties.