Cleveland Cavaliers overturn the script on LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers in a 114-100 win

LOS ANGELES – It looked like another one from those Performances against former franchise face LeBron James, who has owned his old team since joining Los Angeles in 2018 and sent Cleveland down in the NBA.

Not this time. Not anymore.

The Cavaliers overcame a hesitant start on Sunday afternoon, defeating the floundering Lakers, 114-100. It’s Cleveland’s eighth straight victory, raising the record to 8-1. Los Angeles 2-7.

Caves coach JB Bickerstaff said when asked about the reason for the slow start. “It’s a 48-minute game and I just have confidence that it will start clicking at some point. It happened in the second half.”

Perhaps it was the cross-country trip that preceded an evening in Los Angeles. After all, the nightlife in Los Angeles is said to be undefeated.

Perhaps this was an abnormally early wake-up call, as the first bus left their luxury hotel in Beverly Hills shortly after 9 a.m. local time. Perhaps it was the theater – and the opponent. While the Lakers don’t have nearly the same mystery, it’s still a luminous roster that includes All-Star mains Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and of course, LeBron.

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It could be any of those factors. Maybe all of them. Whatever the reason, the Cavs didn’t look like themselves early on.

They were helplessly watching as the Lakers doubled down on defense, scoring the first seven points of the game and advancing 36-30 at the end of the first quarter — the first time they had advanced beyond the first quarter all season.

“We were hesitant. We weren’t bringing the body and taking it to them. We were in our wake,” Bickerstaff explained.

“Give credit to Los Angeles. But our guys believe in our defense and they know when we get called up we can get stopping points. Five guys were protecting the paint. We told them in the first half, ‘If they beat us in the 3s, it’s up to the coaching staff, but if They beat us in the paint, it’s everyone’s responsibility.” They conveyed the message to the heart.

Triggered by Bickerstaff’s other signature speech at the end of the first half that earned him so much praise after the win, the Cavs finally woke up in the second half. They opened 9-2 and advanced for the first time in the afternoon at 10:07 in the third quarter.

“I don’t know what it is, but he’s getting in, and we’re taking it with caution,” Caves goalkeeper Darius Garland said of Bickerstaff’s fiery message. “We listen to it and try to implement it in the second half. He is the leader of all of this. He makes all the game plans. He goes into all the strategies and knows the ins and outs of that. We try to listen to him. We will go with him.”

There were two other short-lived bullet changes. Then, the defeat was on, the kind the Cleveland used to be on the other end of the James Lakers, who had won five times in a row this head-to-head game.

The Lakers, playing the first game of a straight game, emptied the bench with five minutes remaining after the Cavs took the lead to 17 points. Cleveland outscored Los Angeles 56-36 in an impressive second half.

We just closed in as a group,” said Donovan Mitchell of the Cavs. “They were getting things that were very early in the game. It was offensive, offensive, offensive. There will be times where that happens. But we felt like we let them do whatever they wanted. We didn’t dictate to them.

“In the first half, we had that discussion and we came back and set a defensive tone. They had 36 points in the second half. That’s what we could be. Just keep building on it and getting halves like that.”

Mitchell and Garland – Cleveland’s All-Star backyard – did most of the damage. Mitchell finished with 33 points on 10 of 17 shootings, 1 of 7 from the 3-point range and 12 of 13 from the free throw line. Garland added 24 points and seven assists.

James led the way for the Lakers, scoring 27 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in 34 minutes. Davis and Westbrook added 19 pieces each.

For the past few years, the story leaving Hollywood has been how much the Cavs still need – and miss – LeBron. The game against Cleveland was always an opportunity for LeBron to send that reminder, having fun at the expense of his old team. The older brother will choose his younger brother.

Text flipped. Little brother is now grown up. The Cavs showed LeBron what he is It has not got.

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The Clippers will continue their five-game run Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Tipoff is set at 7:30 p.m.

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