The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a close 125-120 game, but really the Lakers won no matter what that final score tells you. Not only did D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson start together for the first time this season, Russell flourished after going through his stint off the bench.
Russell snapped with the starting spot bouncing back his way, dropping a career-high 40 points and looking great while doing so. D’Angelo was feeling it, draining seven of his 12 attempts from deep. The funny thing about it is his selection wasn’t all that different than it’s been all season, but it was one of the few nights where the shots were actually falling.
He hit his open looks, created some solid scoring opportunities for himself with his handles, and gave fans, teammates and the front office something to think about going into the offseason.
Brandon Ingram had a solid game as well, scoring 18 points and using some of his fancy footwork to get there. Julius Randle did a little bit of everything, scoring 10 points, dishing seven assists and grabbing seven rebounds. All five Lakers starters reached double-digits, and they looked good all night.
The Cavaliers’ “Big Three” were too much, though. Kyrie Irving saw Russell’s 40 and raised the bar, dropping a season-high 46 on the Lakers’ heads. LeBron tossed in 34 points (7 AST, 6 REB), but clearly flipped a switch in the middle of the fourth quarter. A defensive possession where he forced Corey Brewer into a turnover was the turning point. Kevin Love added in 21, and the only three Cavaliers to score at least 10 points did enough to close the Lakers out.
Dropping 43 points in a quarter, as the Cavaliers did in the fourth, can do that sort of thing.
Overall this was the perfect loss for the Lakers. They looked great as a team, Russell and Clarkson played well together and they made the defending champions work even after they rested the game before.
Good fight, good night. Unless you’re a Duke fan.