LOS ANGELES — LeBron James scored 23 of his 31 points in a dominant second half, and Dwight Howard added season highs of 21 points and 15 rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ ninth consecutive victory, 128-99 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
James added eight assists while passing Isiah Thomas for sole possession of eighth place on the NBA’s career list. The longtime Cavaliers superstar led a decisive run during the third quarter and poured it on in the fourth for the Lakers, who still haven’t lost since Christmas.
Los Angeles won its third straight game without Anthony Davis, who is out with a bruised backside.
Kevin Love had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland in the third stop of a six-game road stretch. Two days after the Cavs posted a surprising win at powerhouse Denver, they couldn’t keep up with a franchise icon who hasn’t slowed down since he moved to the West Coast.
Returning from a one-game absence with an apparent case of the flu, James improved to 2-0 against the Cavaliers since he departed for the second time in 2018. James had 32 points and 14 rebounds in his return to Cleveland in November 2018, and he was injured last January when the Cavs beat the Lakers at Staples Center.
Tristan Thompson had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland added 16 points apiece.
Cleveland jumped to a 14-point lead in the first half while most of the Lakers played listlessly, but Los Angeles ran away from the middle of the second quarter onward.
James, who passed Thomas with his 9,062nd assist, is the NBA’s leader with a career-best 10.7 assists per game while moulding himself into a virtuoso playmaker alongside Davis.
While James took control with 12-for-16 shooting, Howard capped another outstanding game in his bounce-back season with his ninth career 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Cavaliers: Former Lakers F Larry Nance Jr. missed his sixth straight game with left knee soreness, but coach John Beilein is hopeful that Nance will return during their road trip. … Beilein said he has known for "a couple of weeks" that first-round pick Dylan Windler would miss the entire season due to a stress reaction in his lower left leg. The Cavaliers announced Windler’s yearlong absence Monday. "Would have been a great addition for us," Beielein said. "Feel bad for him, but he’ll be almost like another first-round draft pick next season."
Lakers: Veteran G Rajon Rondo also missed the game with an injured finger. … James and Avery Bradley both played despite the flu. Bradley scored 12 points. … Danny Green had 10 points in his return from a one-game absence with a sore right hip.
Davis is close to returning after his scary fall last week in a home game against New York, coach Frank Vogel said. The six-time All-Star missed the Lakers’ road games at Dallas and Oklahoma City last weekend, and his return could depend on his pain tolerance.
Davis felt good enough to make a quick trip Sunday to Lambeau Field, where he and JaVale McGee watched the Packers beat the Seahawks. Davis is a Chicago native, but he wore an Aaron Rodgers jersey to support Green Bay.
Vogel said his players cleared the trip with the Lakers, who had the day off Sunday and didn’t hold a shootaround Monday morning.
Cavaliers: Stay in Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Tuesday night.
Lakers: Host the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.