LeBron James made a triumphant return home with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists on Monday to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over the Cleveland Cavaliers 131-120.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James sparked the Lakers team he led to the 2020 NBA crown over the Cavs hometown club he made into a 2016 NBA champion, spectators cheering and chanting the 37-year-old star’s name as he walked out of the arena.
James, who played 41 minutes, played down any notion the victory was more meaningful because it came against his former team and hometown squad.
“Just wanted to get a win,” James said. “That’s all that mattered to me.”
James was happy the Lakers ended a slump that saw them lose four of their prior five games.
“To be able to play how we played, I was able to contribute a little bit and we get a Dub (win), finished the trip off, that’s all that mattered to me.
“We needed that one.”
Russell Westbrook added 20 points and 11 assists and D.J. Augustin came off the bench to score 20 points for the Lakers, who improved to 31-41, ninth in the Western Conference.
Darius Garland had 29 points and 17 assists to lead the Cavs, 41-31 and sixth in the Eastern Conference by a game over Toronto.
Depleted Sixers win
The Philadelphia 76ers, playing without resting superstars Joel Embiid and James Harden, got 28 points from Tyrese Maxey and 20 off the bench from Shake Milton to power the Sixers over visiting Eastern Conference leader Miami 113-106.
Philadelphia rose to 44-27, level with defending NBA champion Milwaukee at second in the East, 2 1/2 games behind the Heat, who had 27 points from Jimmy Butler in a losing cause.
The 76ers, playing their third game in four nights, benched Cameroonian big man Embiid due to a sore back and Harden with right hamstring recovery.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he wanted to rest his top players with an eye to next month’s start of the playoffs. Embiid averages 29.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game while Harden averages 22.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game.
At New York, Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant scored 37 points, grabbed nine rebounds and passed off eight assists to lead the Nets over visiting Utah 114-106.
Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points to lead the Jazz, who fell to 45-27, 2 1/2 games behind third-place Golden State in the West.
Brooklyn improved to 38-34, eighth in the East by a game over Charlotte.
Nets coach Steve Kerr revealed that Brooklyn guard Ben Simmons, obtained in a deal with Philadelphia for Harden, has a herniated disc in his back. Kerr said surgery has not been discussed and he was “optimistic” the Australian would be ready this season.
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine each scored 26 points while Montenegrin center Nikola Vucevic contributed 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls over visiting Toronto 113-99.
Dwight Powell scored 22 points and Spencer Dinwiddie added 20 off the Dallas bench to lead the host Mavericks over Minnesota 110-108.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timbrwolves with 22 points but couldn’t make a tying shot after grabbing a rebound in the dying seconds as Minnesota fell to 42-31, one-half game behind sixth-place Denver and 2 1/2 behind fifth-place Dallas in the West.
Christian Wood scored a career-high 39 points to lead the Houston Rockets over visiting Washington 115-97 while Jayson Tatum had 36 to lead the Boston Celtics to a 132-123 victory at Oklahoma City.
Brandon Williams scored 23 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers over host Detroit 119-115 while LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier each had 17 points to lead host Charlotte over New Orleans 106-103.
Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis of Lithuania will miss at least the next 10 days with a left knee injury.