The Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers traded the lead 12 times in the opening quarter. In a sloppy start to the game for both sides, the Cavs and Lakers traded mid-range jumpers and clanking layups that saw Cleveland have multiple stretches of two-plus minutes without a bucket while playing down to the Lakers' level on both sides of the ball.
But with 1:46 left to play in the opening period, Kyrie Irving hit a jump shot to put the Cavs up 22-21. After that bucket, the Cavs would not trail and opened up a lead that get as high as 21 points in an eventual 120-102 win for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers' "Big Three" took turns of sorts carrying the load. Kyrie Irving was first up. At the end of the first, he scored eight points in the last 1:46 of the first quarter as part of 13 first quarter points. Love, coming off a five point performance in the Cavs' win streaking ending loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday, scored 17 points the second quarter, a large portion of which came on a string of four straight three-pointers near the end of the quarter.
James, meanwhile, had an all-around first half that saw him score eight points while pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out six assists. But in the third, James took over the scoring load on his own, scoring 13 points as the Cavs led by as many as 20 in the third. Love, who scored a game high - and a personal season high - 32 points, ended the Cavs' scoring in the third with two more three-pointers. Love made seven of eight three-point attempts on the day. He also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Irving finished the game 28 points on just 14 shots while also dishing out 10 assists. LeBon finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, putting him two assists shy of a triple-double. Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 20 points.
The Cavs' big lead, which was at 17 though three quarters, also enabled coach David Blatt to rest James, Love and Irving in the fourth quarter. LeBron didn't play a single minute in the fourth quarter, while Irving and Love exited the game with 6:27 left to play. The unit the Cavs used to close the game, however, actually extended the lead to as much as 20 over Los Angeles in the final half of the quarter.
Cleveland's win today brought it one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls in the win column in the Central Division. The Cavs, however, are a few percentage points back of the Bulls in the division and for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference due to being one game down in the loss column. The Cavaliers next play on Wednesday vs. the Miami Heat. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. from Quicken Loans Arena.