LeBron James made his return to Cleveland on Wednesday for the first time since leaving the Cavaliers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. While the home crowd didn’t get to see their Cavs win, they got to see a hallmark dominant performance by the kid from Akron.
Even after a tear-jerking tribute video from the Cavs, James was able to lock in and lead the lethargic Lakers to a 109-105 win over Cleveland to put them at 10-7 for the season.
In 35 minutes, James ended the night with an impressive stat line of 32 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. Unfortunately, James was one of the few players that looked motivated to play on Wednesday.
Outside of James and Lonzo Ball — who put together arguably his best game of the season with a season-high 15 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists — the Lakers didn’t match the energy from the Cavaliers for a full 48 minutes. Despite being the worse team, the Cavs played like they wanted it more and they nearly came away with the win because of it.
Turnovers were a huge problem for the Lakers throughout the game, as they turned the ball over 15 times to the Cavaliers’ three turnovers. It’s hard to win games when you’re so careless with the ball, and the Lakers got lucky that they had LeBron and the Cavaliers didn’t on Wednesday (in addition to a few clutch free throws from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope).
One positive that we haven’t seen much of this season is the fact that all starters ended the game with a positive box plus-minus, with Ball leading the way with a box plus-minus of +15. All five starters also ended the night in double-figures. For contrast, no one that came off the bench was a positive for the Lakers.
The Lakers will get to enjoy their Thanksgiving at home in Los Angeles on Thursday. The following day, they will take on the Utah Jazz, who have struggled to rediscover their form from last season despite keeping all of their core pieces in free agency. We’ll see you there.
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