CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, Kyrie Irving matched a career high with 12 assists and the refreshed Cleveland Cavaliers finally put away Los Angeles in the fourth quarter, beating the young Lakers 119-108 on Saturday night.
Kevin Love had 27 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, leading the Cavs to their sixth win in seven games.
The Cavs were back at full strength after coach Tyronn Lue left James, Love and Irving behind earlier this week for a game in Memphis, a decision that sparked some criticism as fans were denied a chance to see the three stars and Cleveland lost.
Irving looked more like himself in his first game in a week, adding 21 points as the Cavs improved to 19-6.
James, who was late getting onto the floor before the game, scored 26 points and needs two more to pass Moses Malone for eighth place on the career scoring list.
Nick Young made eight 3-pointers and scored a season-high 32 for the Lakers, who snapped an eight-game losing streak on Friday in Philadelphia and were a headache for the defending NBA champions all night.
Channing Frye and James each hit a 3 to help Cleveland to a 95-86 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Lakers refused to give in and were still within 110-105 when James drained another 3-pointer with 2:32 left as Cleveland closed the game on a 10-3 run.
Los Angeles first-year coach Luke Walton wanted his team to “come out swinging. Nobody is expecting us to win.” The Lakers did just that, taking an eight-point lead after one quarter and outworking the Cavs, who weren’t connected on either end of the floor.
Cleveland briefly turned up its defensive intensity to offset its sluggish start, opening the second quarter with a 15-2 run.
The Lakers, though, hung around by making 16 3-pointers and had a chance for an upset before James took over in the fourth.
Lakers: G D'Angelo Russell was inactive with a sore left knee that has bothered him most of the season. He scored 15 in Friday’s win. … Walton was an assistant with Golden State last season and said he has yet to watch Cleveland’s Game 7 win in the NBA Finals. “You don’t get over losing Game 7,” he said. “You’re happy for the guys here, but it sticks with you for the rest of your life.” … Walton spent two seasons playing with the Cavs, who were rebuilding in 2011-13 after James left for Miami. “I had a blast here. We didn’t win a lot,” he said. “But the fans were great and packed the arena every night. Good memories for me.”
Cavaliers: Cleveland has won five straight over the Lakers. … The Cavs have won 25 of their last 29 at home against Western Conference teams. … Lue said he and general manager David Griffin are still discussing roster options after C Chris “Birdman” Andersen sustained a season-ending – and likely career-ending – knee injury in practice Friday. The Cavs have been looking to add a backup point guard, but may now also be in the market for a big. Lue said the Cavs will miss Andersen’s positive energy. “I love what he stands for,” Lue said.
Lakers: Continue their six-game trip at Charlotte on Tuesday.
Cavaliers: At Milwaukee on Tuesday before hosting the Bucks on Wednesday.