This is still LeBron James’ city, the fans in Cleveland still wearing his jerseys and cheering his name even though he no longer plays for their team.
But Saturday with the Lakers beginning a four-game trip, it wasn’t James making the biggest plays or hitting the biggest shots. More than has been the case on any other night this season, James had plenty of help.
Led by Anthony Davis, seven different Lakers scored in double figures as they out-dueled the Cavaliers for a wild 121-115 victory.
Davis scored 32, James added 22 and Austin Reaves had 15 points and 10 assists as the Lakers earned their third straight road win after losing their first five away from Crypto.com Arena.
James’ impact on the Cavaliers doesn’t need much highlighting, but Saturday, it came anyway. Earlier in the day, a museum celebrating James’ career opened in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. And during the first quarter, the Cavaliers showed a video featuring James’ milestone baskets from his first points to the moment he set the NBA’s all-time scoring record last season.
Late in Saturday’s game though, he couldn’t get a good whistle. First, a foul called on the Cavaliers was overturned via a coach’s challenge and later he was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
Still, the Lakers (10-7) got the stops and the defensive rebounds they needed in the final minute.
Donovan Mitchell, who sat out the previous four games because of a right hamstring strain, went four of 18 from the field and had 22 points and six assists for Cleveland.
The Lakers were again short-handed, their depth on the wing decimated by injuries to Jarred Vanderbilt (heel), Rui Hachimura (nose) and Cam Reddish (groin). Second-year guard Max Christie remained in the starting lineup. Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood saw their roles expand with the team short on numbers.
All three were excellent on the offensive end in the first half, combining for 30 points on just 15 shots.
“You have to see the glass half full always. I rather this would happen now with some of our guys as opposed to late March, April, going into that money time. So you just have to weather the storm,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said pregame. “The plan for our team that we put together and tried to execute this summer, you know, is coming to fruition, and we’re needing these pieces, being deep at every position, allows you a chance to weather all of this, to try to get through at a high level, the highest level possible.”
Offensively, apart from some turnover issues, the Lakers were close to their highest level. The team scored 70 points in the first half and made more than half of its shots overall.