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LeBron James has triple-double, monster dunk in Lakers’ win over Cavaliers

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Here were the Lakers, down double digits early on, their will already broken by the slightest pressure. On Monday night, it was an offensive rebound that broke their initial momentum and took their lives.

It’s a scene playing out in cities across the NBA map: The Lakers fold after a botched call, a missed rotation, a blocked jump shot or, in this case, a ghost frame.

The Cavaliers would score 31 of the next 42 points, the latest chapter in the Lakers’ inability to deal with adversity being written in real time.

But LeBron James hates to lose. And he really hates losing in Cleveland.

It’s only happened once as an opponent, on March 29, 2011, and thanks to a triple-double combined with another strong game from Russell Westbrook, it hasn’t happened a second time yet.

Fighting off the initial pressure from the Cavaliers instead of weakening under it, the Lakers won 131-120.

James had 38 points to go with 12 assists and 11 rebounds while Westbrook had 20 points and 11 assists as the Lakers finished a four-game road trip with a pair of wins and real pace and momentum.

He also had four dunks, including a monster hit when he jumped over Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who was trying to take over.

Fingers twirling to the sides of his head, indicating he was freaking out, James hit shot after shot, calming the Cleveland bench and posing for fans still wearing their Cavaliers jerseys.

It’s James’ 17th victory against the Cavaliers in 18 attempts.

The Lakers can return home with, at the very least, some comfort in their current style of play, even if it’s not what a Frank Vogel-led team normally looks like.

Adopting lineups that favor offense, the Lakers have finally shown glimpses of continuity, a trait that has eluded them since the early days of the season following their busy summer of roster rebuilding.

With Anthony Davis out and Kendrick Nunn still waiting to make his debut, the Lakers don’t have two key ingredients for the defensive lineups they thought they would.

So even though Vogel said it hasn’t been “fun,” they had to take a turn.

“You have to put aside some of your own ego sometimes. And if an offensive lineup is what you feel is going to win the most games, you have to put that aside and move on,” Vogel said before the game. “I’ve done a lot this year. It hasn’t resulted in enough wins, and some of the defensive performances we’ve put up have been very disappointing. But we have to fit the pieces offensively for us to win. The goal is for us to perform well enough on both sides to score more points as a team. It’s not just about being a great defensive team.

“I had to take some of that off, and that’s just part of this job. And we’re up for the challenge, we still have a lot of life left in us and we’ve found a lot of ways to do things that won’t work. That doesn’t mean we’ve found what will work yet.”

They used their 33rd different starting lineup on Monday, playing Wenyen Gabriel, Dwight Howard and Austin Reaves with James and Westbrook. The group opened the game by scoring six in a row before the Cavaliers went ahead by as much as 14.

Then backup guard DJ Augustin turned on and the Lakers continued to struggle, as positive a sign as any they’ve shown consistently over the past week.

And the Lakers stayed in the mix long enough for James to pick up the slack, both as a scorer and as a playmaker, and the team looked as comfortable as it has all season.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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