Video Credit: NBA

New FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Cavaliers- Game 72

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (31-40) | Cleveland Cavaliers (41-31)


Lebron James returned to Cleveland for a 38-point display, lifting the Lakers over the Cavaliers in the 131-120 win.


Lakers vs Cavaliers                      
Photo Credit: Ron Schwane/AP

Imagine returning home to dunk on a former teammate with whom you won a Championship. Last night was a storybook night for Lebron James, capturing his 105th career triple-double in front of his former hometown crowd.  The Cavaliers are projected to avoid the play-in as a 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, missing Collin Sexton and Jarret Allen again in this one.

Austin Reaves kicked off the game with a 6-0 run for the Lakers before Evan Mobley responded by leading a 9-0 run.  Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro then had Cleveland up by 12, both coming through from three.  It was a tough start for Los Angeles even after D.J. Augustin connected for two straight threes, as there was more early offense to be found for the Cavs.

Kevin Love led an 8-0 run with two threes to give the Cavaliers their largest lead of the night at 14. D.J. Augustin was incredible in the quarter for the Lakers, however, leading an 11-4 run right before the end of the first.  He was 3-3 from deep in the quarter, posting 11 key points to bring it within seven. The Lakers showed signs of falling behind drastically again but were able to cut it to single digits despite James only having 4 points.

Cleveland got some shots up to add to the lead in the beginning of the second before Russel Westbrook responded with another three. He is 8-15 over the last 3 games in that department, a great sign for Laker Nation. This was the start of a 16-7 run, with James scoring 9 of the 16 on inside work. The Lakers led by one at this point, followed by 12 lead changes in the middle of the second.

It suddenly became a textbook back and forth game, Garland and James were both lifting the offense for each side. It was the Lakers who had the last laugh of the half in retrospect, with James elevating over Love for an epic poster. “Once I got the bounce pass and put my left leg down into the ground that’s when I looked up. To be completely honest I hate it had to be him,” James stated after the game. It left Love with the need to put James in a friendly headlock, but also led to a 9-2 run for Los Angeles before the break. It put them back on top by five, shifting the momentum set all quarter by the Cavaliers.

The offense started slowing for the Lakers after the run that got it started, but D.J. Augustin had himself a half that supported JamesLBJ reached 20 points again before the break, but 4-4 from three and 17 first-half points for Augustin helped to elevate them. The newer players have been stepping up as of late, with Augustin finishing the night with 20. That level of play for the whole team needed to remain if James wanted to beat his former club.

After being down 14 in the first quarter, the Lakers adjusted and were back on top 67-62 at halftime.


Lakers vs Cavaliers
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Lakers

Reaves and Westbrook added to the lead to start the second half, with Reaves hitting from three again.  Cleveland brought it back to a close game in the quarter, however, with Garland cutting the deficit to two.  Westbrook and Augustin both hit threes in response, but Cleveland kept chipping away.

One final 6-0 run led by Lamar Stevens in the third gave the Cavs the lead by one. Anything could have happened in one quarter for either side, but as the Lakers have learned all year, they need to be consistent all the way through.

Los Angeles came out fighting in the final quarter, and James led a 12-2 run to get the lead back and reach 30 points.  The closest Garland could get Cleveland to was within four in the quarter, but the Lakers decided to pull away in dominant fashion, running a 16-8 that silenced the home crowd.

It was the perfect return home for the second all-time scorer in the league, which boosted the rest of the team to step up their performance as well. The game came to a conclusion with the Lakers adding another win, thanks in part to this new approach they’ve been displaying as of late.


The Lakers return home to welcome the 76ers Wednesday. The game can be seen at 7 p.m on ESPN.           

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Duncan Dye – Franchise Sports Media

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