The baby Lakers were a fly buzzing around the Cavaliers head all night at The Q but Cleveland finally swatted them away late in the final quarter Saturday night for the 119-108 victory over Los Angeles.
“We didn’t start the game like we wanted,” Cavs big Kevin Love on the Lakers keeping the game close until late, “Some stuff we definitely need to clean up.”
Love’s strong play to start the season continued on Saturday with his 27 point, 14 rebound performance.
LeBron James early struggles were a large part of the Cavs inability to put the game away until late.
Through the first 3 quarters of the game, LeBron had only 10 points on 3-8 shooting. The 4th quarter was another story as LeBron shot 60 % from the field in the final frame to finish with 26 points and a rebound shy of a double-double.
“I just wanted to try to put an imprint on the game,” LeBron elaborated on his late game dominance, “I was able to make some plays not only for myself but for my teammates.”
Known primarily as a scoring point guard, Kyrie Irving dished out 12 assists to go with his 21 points. That number tied his career high for assists in a game.
Saturday night was Irving’s first game in 7 days after missing the Memphis home-away back-to-back as the Cavaliers attempt to manage the wear-and-tear on the young superstar.
“Our biggest thing is trying to keep Kyrie healthy,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said, “You’re young, you want to play but you’ve got to understand the task at hand and what our mission is. He understands that now.”
Kyrie conceded that the rest was much needed, “I didn’t have that same lift in my jump shot or that same quickness.”
Lakers Guard Nick Young was a huge part of the LA’s success tonight finishing the game with 32 points on 8-14 shooting from the outside.
Swaggy P is having a career renaissance under new Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton, averaging 13.3 points per game through 22 games this season and shooting a career high 44.8 % from beyond the arc.
“16- 3’s,” Lue explained how the Lakers were able to keep the game close, “It was an emphasis coming into the game.”
Saturday was also a homecoming for former Cavalier big man Timofey Mozgov who returned to the Q for the first time since signing a 4-year, $64 million contract this offseason with LA. He received his championship ring before the game and was unexpectedly swarmed by his old teammates.
“Its fun to celebrate something like that with a guy,” Cavs guard JR Smith reminisced, “Even though he’s not on our team, he’s still part of our brotherhood.”
Mozgov reminded fans of the good old days with the quintessential Timo game scoring 2 points and adding 4 rebounds on 1-6 shooting while allowing the opposing team full access to the lane.
It’s good to see some things never change.
Next up for the Cavaliers a back-to-back with Milwaukee starting on Tuesday night in Wisconsin.