LOS ANGELES — Forward LeBron James scored 23 of his 36 points in the second half, and the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving had 22 points, and forward Kevin Love, despite being slowed by back problems, added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Los Angeles center Jordan Hill scored 20 points, while guard Kobe Bryant finished with 19 points and a career-high 17 assists.
The Cavaliers managed a double-digit lead for much of the fourth quarter before Los Angeles rallied.
Bryant made two of three free throws after being fouled by forward Shawn Marion on a 3-point attempt with 43.5 seconds remaining, cutting the Cavaliers’ lead to 103-99. James, though, responded with a driving layup to push the advantage back to six with 20.9 seconds left.
On the Lakers’ next possession, Bryant missed a 3-pointer from deep in the corner. Cleveland guard J.R. Smith, who had 14 points, canned one of two free throws before Lakers guard Nick Young, who also finished with 14 points, answered with a 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left. Forward Ryan Kelly missed a 3-point shot with 5.8 seconds to go, sealing the win for the Cavs.
Cleveland (20-20) won for the first time since Jan. 2, when it defeated the Charlotte Hornets 91-87.
The Cavaliers led by as much as 11 in the first half before the Lakers (12-28) went up 61-57 at the break. Bryant recorded only his third career double-double in a half, scoring 12 points and handing out 10 assists. It was his first midgame double-double since Christmas 2002.
James gave the Cavaliers the lead for good at 76-73 on a 3-point basket with 1:18 left in the third quarter. He scored 12 points in the quarter on 4-of-6 shooting and made three of five 3-pointers. Cleveland led 79-75 at the end of the third.
The Cavaliers opened the fourth with a 10-3 run after a trey by reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova with 9:11 remaining for an 89-78 cushion.
NOTES: Cavaliers coach David Blatt denied reports that internal friction between him and his players is a reason Cleveland hasn’t performed well recently. “That’s a lot of nonsense. Just nonsense,” Blatt said. Injuries were among the reasons the team struggled, Blatt said. … Lakers coach Byron Scott served as coach of the Cavaliers from 2010 to 2013. … The clubs will meet again in Cleveland on Feb. 8. … The Cavs will cap their five-game swing west against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday at Staples Center. … The Lakers will begin a four-game trip Friday against the Utah Jazz. Los Angeles G Kobe Bryant will sit out the contest because he no longer plays in back-to-back games. He is expected to play again Monday in Phoenix.
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