Cavaliers and LeBron James a little too much for Lakers

Cavaliers and LeBron James a little too much for Lakers
Cavaliers forward LeBron James attempts a reverse layup against Lakers center Jordan Hill in the first half Thursday night at Staples Center. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Kobe Bryant set a career high with 17 assists, but it wasn't enough to stop the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, who took a 109-102 victory on Thursday night at Staples Center.

James led all scorers with 36 points in 38 minutes, hitting half of his 24 shots from the field.


The bigger issue for the Lakers was Bryant's minute restriction of 32, set by Coach Byron Scott. Bryant sat on the bench watching as the Lakers fell behind by 11 points before he checked back in with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers threatened in the final minutes but couldn't get any closer than four points.

Jordan Hill led the Lakers with 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Bryant scored 19 and had five rebounds.

Kyrie Irving added 22 points while Kevin Love, bothered by back issues, added 17 for the Cavaliers, who shot 46.8% from the field. J.R. Smith also contributed 14 points for Cleveland.

Nick Young was the only other Laker in double figures with 14.  All 10 Lakers who played scored at least two points.

As a team, the Lakers shot 51.3% from the field but missed seven free-throw attempts (69.6%).  The Cavaliers missed 10 free throws (72.2%) and had nine turnovers compared to the Lakers' 12 miscues.

With the loss, the Lakers fall to 12-28. They'll travel quickly to Utah to play the Jazz (13-26) on Friday night. The Cavaliers (20-20) will be back in action at Staples Center on Friday to play the Clippers (26-13).

Cavaliers 79, Lakers 75 (end of third quarter)

Kobe Bryant matched his career high with 15 assists through three quarters of the game against Cleveland on Thursday night at Staples Center.

He has 12 points on five-of-11 shooting in 27 minutes.

The game remained close throughout the third quarter. There has been 16 lead changes and 11 ties so far in the game.

LeBron James gave the Cavaliers a four-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter with 25 points in 28 minutes.

Kyrie Irving scored 18 while Kevin Love, struggling through what appeared to be a back issue, has 14.

The Lakers, who are shooting 50% from the field and have nine turnovers, have been led by Jordan Hill with 18 points.


The Cavaliers are shooting 48.3% and have eight turnovers.

Lakers 61, Cavaliers 57 (halftime)

Nick Young made a three-pointer to give the Lakers their biggest lead of the game, 40-32, but the team slumped and Cleveland quickly took over the lead.

The lead see-sawed 11 times in the first half, with the Lakers finally holding a four-point advantage at the half.

Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 14 points apiece, while LeBron James added 13.  The Cavaliers shot 50% from the field.

Kobe Bryant has a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists in 17 minutes.  At the half, he's seven rebounds away from a triple-double.

The Lakers shot 58.1% from the field, led by Bryant and Jordan Hill.  Every Laker who played, 10 in all, scored at least two points.

Lakers 30, Cavaliers 30 (end of first quarter)

The Lakers started slowly against the Cavaliers, falling behind by as many as 11 points less than five minutes into the game.

Cleveland had scored 21 points with 6:04 left in the opening quarter, but stalled for four minutes, the Lakers taking a two-point lead with a 17-4 run.

Kobe Bryant had seven points and eight assists in 11 minutes to lead the Lakers, who shot 65% from field. Center Jordan Hill added 10 points on five-of-six shooting.

J.R. Smith converted a trio of three-pointers to lead the Cavaliers, who shot 50% from the field, with nine points. Kyrie Irving added eight, Kevin Love seven and LeBron James two.


The Lakers (12-27) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-20) on Thursday night at Staples Center.

The Cavaliers have lost six in a row, including Tuesday night in Phoenix against the Suns, with LeBron James returning from back and knee issues.

Kobe Bryant (rest), Jordan Hill (knee) and Ronnie Price (elbow) are all expected to play. The Lakers are missing Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back).

Anderson Varejao (knee) is out for the season for the Cavaliers. Newly acquired guard/forward Iman Shumpert (shoulder) also won't play.

For an in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Cavaliers.

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.