LOS ANGELES – The best second half of the season, presented by LeBron James.
After a fairly even 24 minutes, the King turned on the jets and the Lakers demolished the Cleveland Cavaliers – outscoring them by 30 the rest of the way.
James traded a lukewarm first half for an otherworldly performance after intermission.
He did in two truly dominant stretches. First, he scored nine points and dished out five assists in the first 7:55 of the third quarter, helping L.A. turn a one-point deficit into a 12-point lead.
And then, upon returning to the hardwood at the beginning of the fourth, James unleashed the rest of his fury.
By the time he headed to the bench with 5:32 left in regulation, LBJ had collected 31 points on a scorching-hot 12-of-16 from the field, with eight dimes and a pair of rebounds for good measure.
A standing ovation by a delirious STAPLES Center crowd ensued.
What those 18,997 souls in Downtown L.A. had just witnessed was the most points (81) scored in any half by the purple and gold since they poured 84 in the second half of a November 17, 1987 contest against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Oh, and a little earlier, they had also seen James surpass Isiah Thomas – rising to the 8th spot in the NBA all-time assists leaderboard.
“One of the best point guards this game has ever seen,” James said. “And one of the toughest as well. Just his upbringing, coming from Chicago, doing the things he was able to do on the floor. From Indiana going to the Bad Boys in Detroit, just setting the tone for what he wanted his career to be … Anytime I’m linked with the greats, and ‘Zeke being one of those, it’s just an honor, and I think back to my childhood and where I’m from.”
And the kid from Akron let others shine bright too. In fact, he helped Dwight Howard turn back the clock for one of his best nights as a Laker.
The veteran center had it going early, and L.A. kept feeding him and feeding.
When you can’t have enough of a good thing, you keep going. And when you take a heat-check three and you make it, the party is complete.
Howard finished with a monster line of 21 points and 15 rebounds on 9-for-11 shooting.
"I think it's an incredible thing, what we have right now, as far as chemistry and as far as guys always being ready no matter who's in the lineup and tonight was another example of that," James said.
All in all, Frank Vogel’s squad had six different guys in double digits and a 33-to-9 assist/turnover ratio.
They were also able to capitalize on a lot of the Cavaliers’ mistakes, turning their 20 team turnovers into 31 points – a tendency that’s in part fueled an unbeaten (22-0) record against teams below .500.
Wasn't that fun, LeBron?