Toronto, Canada – CLEVELAND, Ohio (Reuters) - LeBron James continued his reign over the Los Angeles Lakers, recording 37 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers claimed a 93-87 victory to sweep the season series against the defending NBA champions Thursday.
"You don't want to look too far into (the win)," James told reporters after also finishing with nine assists.
"They're the best team we have in our league. You take the win, use it as a measuring stick and move on."
Kobe Bryant scored 31 points and became the youngest player to reach 25,000 points after converting a free throw in the first half after starting well in the matchup against James, a shootout between the NBA's last two MVP winners.
However, Bryant's shooting woes returned in the second half and finished with 12 of 31 from the field.
Bryant's jumper with 1:32 remaining tied the game at 87-87, but Los Angeles faded and failed to gain revenge for their 102-87 Christmas Day loss to Cleveland.
The Cavaliers (33-11) moved to within percentage points of the Lakers (32-10) for the best record in the league despite receiving bad news earlier in the day.
Cleveland appeared affected early by the loss of their scoring option and fell 27-18 behind after the first where Bryant tallied 12 points.
The Cavaliers cut into the margin to just two at halftime before James put his stamp on the second half with his outside shot. He made four straight jumpers during a personal 9-0 run that put the Cavs up 87-80.
Los Angeles responded with a 7-0 spurt of its own to tie the contest but could not score in the last minute.
"(The Cavs" are physical, tough-minded and hard-nosed-type team," Bryant said. "We have to step up and match that -- that's not part of our DNA."
Shaquille O'Neal scored 13 for Cleveland against his former team.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles)