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LeBron scores 38 in Ohio return, Lakers crush Cavs 131-120

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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 38 points, posted another triple-double and sparked memories of his time in Cleveland, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 131-120 victory over the Cavaliers on Monday, who had a lousy defensive night.

It was James’ only visit home this season aside from last month’s All-Star Game, and the star from nearby Akron thrilled fans who gave him a warm welcome. James played 11 seasons in two seasons with the Cavs, trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time since he left in 2018.

James added 10 rebounds and 12 assists for his 105th career triple-double and sixth this season. He is trying to keep the Lakers in the postseason in what has been a disappointing season so far.

Russell Westbrook and DJ Augustin each added 20 points for the Lakers, who came in tied for ninth in the Western Conference.

Darius Garland scored 29 and added 16 assists for Cleveland, which came in leading Toronto by a game for the No. 6 seed in the East. The Cavs will play the Raptors on Thursday night.

James scored five points as the Lakers opened the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run to go up by nine. Cleveland was still within striking distance when James, as he has done so many times with so many teams before, put the Cavs away with a dunk and jump shot in the final 2:34.

After his postgame television interview, James left shaking hands with fans on his way to the locker room.

James improved to 17-1 in games against the Cavs. He has averaged 29.6 points against Cleveland, the most by him against any opponent.

The four-time MVP and champion was cheered from the moment he ran onto the court for warm-ups. He received a standing ovation during player introductions and again in a first-quarter timeout when the Cavs saluted him for becoming the second leading scorer in league history.

James waved, patted his heart, clasped his hands together as if in prayer and bowed to the Cleveland fans, who witnessed some familiar sights: his pregame chalk shot, trademark fadeouts and one of those towering dunks only he can. do.

James came home second on the scoring list after outpointing Karl Malone on Saturday night in Washington with a 38-point performance. There was speculation that he would sit out against the Wizards to rest his sore left knee so he could slot in behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on his final homecoming.

But despite the Lakers’ struggles, James remains dedicated and committed, even at the age of 37.

Coach Frank Vogel finds that inspiring.

“He wants to be there every night,” Vogel said. “Him being like that in his 19th year is something this league needs.”

ADVICE

Lakers: Stanley Johnson scored all of his points in the fourth. … Anthony Davis, out since Feb. 16 with a sprained foot, did a lengthy on-court workout before the game. It is not yet clear when, or if, he will return this season. … G Talen Horton-Tucker (sprained left ankle) sat out for the second time in three games. He went 0-for-5 in 17 scoreless minutes in Washington.

Cavaliers: All-Star center Jarrett Allen (broken finger) missed his eighth straight game. Allen ranks second in the NBA with a .677 field goal percentage and has enough marks to qualify for the end-of-season leaders. G Rajon Rondo (sprained ankle) and F Dean Wade (knee soreness) were inactive for the fifth straight game.

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Lakers: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Cavaliers: Visit Toronto on Thursday night.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports



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