Cleveland, OH – Kyrie Irving dropped in 28 points and handed out 11 assists in his return to the hardwood on Tuesday as the Cleveland Cavaliers knocked off the Los Angeles Lakers, 100-94, at Quicken Loans Arena.
Irving saw his first game action since fracturing his left index finger in a Nov. 18 loss at Philadelphia.
"I was just waiting for the doctors to clear me. I'm thankful they did and I got to get back out there tonight," Irving said. "I felt good."
C.J. Miles buried five three-pointers en route to 28 points, while Anderson Varejao contributed 20 points, nine boards and five assists for the Cavs, who snapped a five-game skid.
Alonzo Gee donated 17 points and five rebounds in the triumph.
Kobe Bryant went off for a game-high 42 points on 16-of-28 shooting to go with five rebounds, while Dwight Howard added 19 points and 20 boards for the free- falling Lakers, who have lost eight of their last 11 games.
Metta World Peace finished with 13 points and nine rebounds for the visitors, who played without forward Pau Gasol for the fifth consecutive game.
"It's gut-check time. We have to look in the mirror and fix some things," said Lakers forward Antawn Jamison.
A 12-foot jumper by Irving followed by 1-of-2 from the line by Varejao gave the Cavs their largest lead of the night, 57-41, but the home side shot just 5-of-22 from the field in the third quarter which allowed the Lakers to get back into the game.
Trailing by 12 with 4:20 to play in the stanza, Los Angeles reeled off a 12-3 burst to cut its deficit to 65-62 thanks to a Bryant bucket, but Irving drained a much-needed trey with one-tenth of a second on the clock to give the Cavs a 68-62 lead after three.
A pair of free throws from Howard with 7:36 to play pulled the Lakers within 77-75, but the Cavs answered with five straight points on Irving's three-point play and a Miles jumper to push the margin back to seven with 6:28 left.
Later in the frame, Bryant buried a deep 3-ball with 28.5 on the clock to make it a one-possession game, 95-92, but Varejao and Miles hit clutch free throws down the stretch to help the Cavs hang on for the win.
It was closely contested for the majority of the opening frame as a quick 11- footer jumper by Bryant produced the quarter's fifth tie at 23-23 with 1:14 to go.
The Cavs, though, scored the final six points of the quarter to take a 29-23 lead into the second session.
Los Angeles began the second quarter with a quick 8-1 spurt, capped by a Jodie Meeks 3-pointer which put the visitors ahead, 31-30 with 8:12 on the clock. It wasn't enough to stem the tide as the Cavaliers took control over the remainder of the first half thanks to a 14-2 surge over the next three-plus minutes to snag a comfortable 44-33 lead.
Miles netted the first seven points during the run, which was finished off by a Varejao 18-foot jump shot with 4:07 to play before the break.
Howard hit a pair from the line after a dunk to cut the deficit to seven, but Irving hit two jumpers and Miles drained a triple, then Gee added an alley-oop slam and free throw as the Cavs held a 54-39 cushion at the half.
The Lakers have lost seven of their last eight games in Cleveland and fell to 2-10 this season when trailing at halftime ... Cleveland snapped a four-game home losing streak and improved to 3-6 at Quicken Loans Arena this season ... Los Angeles shot 41.3 percent from the floor and just 25-of-40 from the free throw line ... Cleveland converted 19 LA turnovers into 24 points.