Wine and Gold Prevail in Hollywood Ending

Cavaliers Outlast Lakers in Finale Between Kobe and the King
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Managing Editor

Wrap-Up -- With two of the NBA’s all-time greats sharing the floor for the final time, Thursday’s matchup in Tinseltown was worthy of its historic weight.

In his last career meeting against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, Kobe Bryant emptied both barrels – going toe-to-toe with his Eastern Conference adversary and almost singlehandedly keeping his young Lakers in the contest until he left to a standing ovation with just over two minutes to play.

When the smoke cleared, the Cavaliers (46-18) had improved to 2-0 on their final West Coast trip of the season – exploding offensively for the second straight night and sweeping the Lakers with the 120-108 victory on Thursday night at the Staples Center.

Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points – going 11-for-16 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, adding five boards and a pair of assists in 32 minutes of action.

The matchup marked the 22nd meeting between LeBron and Kobe and the NBA heavyweights with 30 All-Star appearances between them didn’t disappoint – electrifying the sold-out crowd as they went back-and-forth all night..

LeBron finished with 24 points in the win, as all five starters tallied double-figures for the second straight game. James was an even 9-of-18 from the floor to go with seven assists, five boards and a pair of blocked shots.

The most scintillating of those nine field goals came with 2:25 to play in the second quarter, when J.R. Smith broke into the open court after a Channing Frye steal and bounced an alley-oop pass high off the backboard. James grabbed the pass with his left hand and crushed home the dunk, dazzling the Staples Center crowd.

Aside from the marquee head-to-head between Bryant and James, it was Kyrie Irving who led the Wine and Gold with 26 points, going 11-for-20 from the floor and leading both squads with nine assists.

With Kevin Love sitting out Thursday’s game with a left knee sprain, the Cavaliers juggled their lineup for the Lakers – inserting Channing Frye into the starting lineup for the first time as a Cavalier. Frye passed the audition with flying colors – notching 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including 5-of-7 from long-distance, to go with seven boards and a steal.

J.R. Smith followed up with 17 points, going 4-of-7 from long-range – his 28th game this season of at least three triples – and 5-of-10 overall, adding two boards, two assists, a pair of steals and a blocked shot.

Tristan Thompson doubled-up for the second straight night – finishing with 10 points and a game-high 14 boards.

Game Recap
Kyrie Irving
Cavs Cruise Past Lakers
Kyrie Irving scores 26 and LeBron James adds 24 as the Cavaliers outlast a big night from Kobe Bryant and top the Lakers 120-108.

Matthew Dellavedova rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 11 points, going 3-of-5 from three-point range. On the night, the Wine and Gold canned 16 treys – the sixth time this season they’ve hit at least 15.

Both teams shot the ball well, with the Lakers hitting on 53 percent of their shots and the Cavaliers at 52 percent. The Lakers dominated the Cavaliers in the paint – outscoring Cleveland, 54-36. But the Cavs topped L.A. in second-chance scoring and on the break while shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc.

Turning Point -- For the second straight night, the Cavaliers turned the game’s tide by closing out a quarter with a flurry.

On Wednesday night in Sacramento, it was the third quarter. On Thursday, the Lakers cut Cleveland’s lead to three, 51-48, with 3:30 to play in the second quarter on Julius Randle’s tip-in before the Cavaliers hit the accelerator.

After Randle’s bucket, the Wine and Gold proceeded to drain three three-pointers – one each by James, J.R. Smith and Delly – with LeBron’s insane alley-oop mixed in – closing the period on a 13-7 run and setting up a second stanza in which they didn’t trail at any point.

By the Numbers6,711 … assists that LeBron James has now dished out over the course of his career, tying (former Cavalier and the current mayor of Sacramento) Kevin Johnson for 19th place on the NBA’s all-time list. James needs 15 more helpers to pass Muggsy Bogues and move into 18th place.

QuotableLeBron James, if he’s glad the Kobe farewell tour is over for him …

”I wish I could play against him every single night. Just that competitive juice, just that feel going against one of the greatest, you can never take that for granted. I’m not glad. It’s really surreal actually. You’re not going to get a real sense for it until you play (the Lakers) next year and he’s not in the lineup.”

Up Next – After taking their first two games of the season’s final West Coast trip, the Wine and Gold get a couple days off before their toughest matchup of the roadie – a Sunday afternoon showdown with Chris Paul and the Clippers. The Cavaliers close out the four-gamer on Monday night when they take on the Jazz in Salt Lake City. Cleveland returns (briefly) to The Q – facing off against the Mavericks on Wednesday night before getting right back on the road – a back-to-back next weekend in the Sunshine State, against Orlando on Friday night and the Heat on Saturday.


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Cleveland Cavaliers at Los Angeles Lakers - March 10, 2016

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Best Of Phantom: Kobe and LeBron's Final Match Up

Check out Kobe and LeBron's last matchup through the lens of the Phantom Camera.
Mar 11, 2016  |  01:24

Postgame: LeBron James – March 10, 2016

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Thursday's 120-108 victory against the L.A. Lakers at STAPLES Center.
Mar 11, 2016  |  04:56

Postgame: Kyrie Irving – March 10, 2016

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving spoke with the media following Thursday's 120-108 victory against the L.A. Lakers at STAPLES Center.
Mar 11, 2016  |  04:49

Postgame: Channing Frye – March 10, 2016

Cavaliers forward Channing Frye spoke with the media following Thursday's 120-108 victory against the L.A. Lakers at STAPLES Center.
Mar 11, 2016  |  03:54

Postgame: Coach Lue – March 10, 2016

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media following Thursday's 120-108 victory against the L.A. Lakers at STAPLES Center.
Mar 11, 2016  |  04:16

On-Court Postgame: Kyrie Irving - March 10, 2016

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving spoke with FOX Sports Ohio's Allie Clifton following Thursday's 120-108 victory against the L.A. Lakers at STAPLES Center.
Mar 11, 2016  |  01:44

Cavaliers vs. Lakers - March 10, 2016

Kyrie Irving scores 26 and LeBron James adds 24 as the Cavaliers outlast a big night from Kobe Bryant and top the Lakers 120-108.
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Irving with the Great Find to Thompson - March 10, 2016

Kyrie Irving with the great find, dishes to Tristan Thompson for the dunk.
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Tristan Thompson gets the offensive rebound and then drops it off to LeBron James for the easy dunk.
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LeBron James gets past Kobe Bryant and rocks the rim with the thunderous slam.
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J.R. Smith throws it off the backboard to LeBron James who skies to throw down the alley-oop with his left hand.
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LeBron Goes Behind-the-Back to Tristan - March 10, 2016

LeBron James gets into the paint and dishes a behind-the-back pass to Tristan Thompson for the slam.
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