THE FACTS: Point guard Kyrie Irving collected 28 points and a season-high 11 assists in his first game in three weeks, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 100-94 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Shooting guard C.J. Miles also scored 28 points for the Cavaliers, while center Anderson Varejao had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant scored a season-best 42 points, while center Dwight Howard amassed 19 points and a game-high 20 rebounds. Cleveland snapped its five-game losing streak and sent Los Angeles to its third straight loss.
QUOTABLE: "This is one of the most challenging stretches of my 17 years (in the NBA) -- and the most baffling, too. We have the talent and personnel to do it, but we're not. I'm very upset. It's extremely frustrating, extremely frustrating."
-- Lakers shooting guard Bryant
THE STAT: Bryant was 16-of-28 shooting from the floor (57.1 percent), but the rest of the Lakers only made 15-of-47 field goal attempts (31.9 percent). The future Hall of Famer refused to criticize his teammates for their poor offensive night, but was upset that Los Angeles only scored 11 points in transition against the NBA's third-worst team in Cleveland. "I'm one of the fastest guys on the team -- and I'm like 50," said Bryant, who is actually 34. "What does that tell you? We're slow as (expletive). Make that, slow as hell."
TURNING POINT: Irving returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a broken left index finger and didn't miss a beat. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year made his first shot -- burying a turnaround 19-footer -- and immediately ignited the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena. Irving racked up 14 points and seven assists in the first half, powering the Cavaliers to a 54-39 lead that they never relinquished. "I was just waiting for the doctors to clear me," Irving said. "I'm thankful they did and I got back out there tonight."
QUOTABLE II: "Kyrie just loves to play basketball. He loves the competition. He likes being put in the position of having to deliver. Again, he's just a special young man."
-- Cavaliers coach Byron Scott
HOT: Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson grabbed a team-best 10 rebounds. ... Irving, Varejao and Miles combined to outscore the entire Lakers team 42-39 in the first half. ... Miles, who made 5-of-10 3-pointers, topped his previous season scoring high for the second straight game. ... Cleveland is 7-1 in its last eight home contests against Los Angeles. ... Lakers power forward Jordan Hill had 10 rebounds in his first start of the season. ... Howard tied his top rebounding game with Los Angeles, grabbing 14 defensive boards and six on the offensive glass.
NOT: Cavaliers shooting guard Daniel "Boobie" Gibson left the game with a hyperextended right elbow. He missed three games with the same injury in late November. ... Cleveland's bench of Gibson, center Tyler Zeller, point guard Jeremy Pargo, small forward Omri Casspi, and power forward Samardo Samuels attempted 15 shots, but only made two. ... Lakers point guard Chris Duhon played 15 minutes in the first half without recording a point, assist or steal. ... Howard was 13-of-22 from the foul line. ... Los Angeles is 3-8 in its last 10 trips to Ohio.
QUOTABLE III: "We played very uninspired basketball, offensively and defensively. We play at a very slow pace and we struggle. Maybe it shifts over to defense. Maybe we're slow. Maybe we can't do it. It's my job to fix it -- and that's what I'll do."
-- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni
GOOD MOVE: Scott moved Miles into the starting lineup after the eighth-year pro scored a season-high 15 points Saturday against Detroit. Miles made him look like a genius by sinking 10-of-18 shots in 37 strong minutes. Since earning the dreaded "Did Not Play -- Coach's Decision" five games ago, Miles is averaging 14.8 points while shooting .488 from the field, .500 beyond the arc, and .846 from the line. "C.J. is really starting to step up his game and is playing extremely well," Scott said.
BAD MOVE: D'Antoni benched power forward Antawn Jamison in favor of Hill, but still gave him 29 minutes off the bench. The 14-year veteran failed to take advantage of the playing time, scoring nine points on 3-of-10 shooting (including 1-of-6 on threes) with one rebound, four fouls and no blocked shots. "We understand it's still a young season, but it's disappointing the way we're playing," said Jamison, who spent the previous two-and-a-half seasons with the Cavaliers.
NOTABLE: Los Angeles power forward Pau Gasol (left and right knee tendinitis) missed his fifth straight game, while point guard Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) sat out his 15th consecutive contest. Point guard Steve Nash (left leg fracture) traveled to Cleveland, but said he doesn't expect to be able to return for at least "another two weeks." ... Scott said Cavaliers rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters (left ankle sprain, bone bruise) is unlikely to return this week. The No. 4 pick in the NBA Draft was injured on Dec. 1 against Portland. ... Bryant was very impressed with Irving, saying, "He's a fantastic talent. He's a bad boy. He's the first guy I've really seen that can finish at the rim like Rod Strickland." ... Bryant also lamented the state of the Lakers, who are 9-13. "It doesn't make any sense. We're still finding ways to lose games. It just seems when it rains, it pours. It's like this cloud is following us around at all times."
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Thursday @ New York, Friday @ Washington, Sunday @ Philadelphia. For the Cavaliers, Wednesday @ Indiana, Friday vs. Milwaukee, Saturday @ New York.