Dribbles: Cavs can take pride in fight, but LeBron was, well, LeBron

Lakers forward LeBron James rises for a shot over Cavaliers guard/forward Dylan Windler. - AP

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 115-108 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

1. Nothing to be ashamed of here. The Cavs gave the defending champions a run, made them sweat a little, and mostly, really looked like they belonged on the same court.

2. Yes, moral victories are OK in games like these. Play hard, make a game of it, and see what happens. No one expects the Cavs to be on the same level with a team that features LeBron James.

3. And man oh man, what a night it was for LeBron. As is often the case in this building (and many others), he came through when it meant the most — and when his teammates looked like they were entirely out of gas.

4. James was remarkable, finishing with 46 points on 19-of-26 shooting. Every time the Cavs seemed to inch closer … he would make a 3-pointer. Then he made a fadeaway while double-teamed on the baseline. Then another three.

5. So it was a great night for Northeast Ohio basketball. Just not the Cavs.

6. James finished 7-of-11 on threes. He also recorded eight rebounds and six assists. He is now 7-1 lifetime vs. the Cavs.

7. But on the bright side, it took an otherworldly showing from You Know Who for the Cavs to go away. That really is all coach J.B. Bickerstaff seeks. Make the other guys beat you. Just don’t beat yourselves. That was the case in this one.

8. The Cavs had a number of fine individual showings themselves. Andre Drummond was fantastic with 25 points and 17 rebounds. Cedi Osman scored 0 points in the first quarter — but came on strong to finish with 20. Collin Sexton scored 17 and passed for six assists.

9. Remember, the Cavs were still without starting power forward Kevin Love (calf) and also on this night, replacement Larry Nance Jr. (wrist). Yet they still managed to keep Lakers star Anthony Davis relatively in check. Davis scored 17 points, but was just 5-of-16 shooting.

10. With the exception of some amazing shots by James, the Cavs actually returned to their determined ways on defense. As pointed out by Rick Noland of the Medina Gazette, the rest of the Lakers were a miserable 3-of-21 on threes. (Noland also noted that LeBron only scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting in the third — and still scored 46.)

11. Some of the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for LeBron. That included a load roar when he hit a three to give the Lakers a 108-100 lead. That didn’t deter the Cavs, though. A few moments later, rookie Isaac Okoro buried a triple of his own to cut the deficit to 110-107.

12. Then came the next James three, and that was that. Perhaps not surprisingly, he left the arena to chants of “MVP.”

13. The Lakers (14-4) have yet to lose on the road, where they are 10-0. Considering they’re just 4-4 at the Staples Center, maybe they don’t want home-court advantage for the entire playoffs.

14. That’s a joke. Sort of.

15. Overall, it was a nice bounce-back game for the Cavs on the second night of a back-to-back that followed a Sunday massacre in Boston. Darius Garland again came off the bench, scoring 11 points.

16. In case you missed it, the Cavs may be having some talks with the Nets about reserve center JaVale McGee. The Nets would love to snag him. You can read more on that at this link.

17. Bottom line: The Cavs are in a pretty good spot, hovering around .500 despite an early season defined by key injuries almost nightly. A lot of people will tell you they are surpassing expectations, and so far, those people are right.

18. Next up: The Cavs host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

BOX SCORE | Lakers 115, Cavaliers 108

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of FortyEight Minutes. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and NBA.com.

1 Comment on "Dribbles: Cavs can take pride in fight, but LeBron was, well, LeBron"

  1. Extend Drummond | January 26, 2021 at 12:57 am | Reply

    Note to Cavs FO, the 3pt bombing Warriors are no longer the top team in the league.

    Cavs bigs very effective against the majority of the league so far, including the reigning champs. If the road to the finals goes through the Nets or Sixers, and the Lakers are the opponent, the Cavs bigs rotation is a great thing to have. Cavs are an improved team this year. This is basketball, bigs are good (again). Just saying!

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