In Kobe Bryant’s final tip to Cleveland, he and LeBron James’ much-anticipated duel ended up being a rather one-sided affair.
While Bryant shot just 5-of-16 for 17 points, James went off for 29 points and 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving scored 35 in the Cavaliers’ 120-111 victory.
After the game, Bryant chided his good friend for biting on a fourth-quarter spin move, which led to a reverse layup.
"I just said, 'I can't believe you fell for that. You know that's what I do,'" Bryant said. "Then he came down, did the same footwork. We kind of had a good laugh about that stuff. We always enjoy competing against each other and matching up. Those are the things that I'll really, really miss."
Cleveland (38-14) had the Lakers (11-44) playing from behind the entire game by rolling off a 25-8 run to take a 17-point lead midway through the first quarter.
From there, Irving took over by seemingly taking the ball to the hoop with ease for 11 second-quarter points.
Though Irving scored 10 more in the next period as well, the Lakers attempted a late rally in the final quarter. L.A. rolled off 11 unanswered points — highlighted by a four-point play from Bryant — to cut Cleveland’s lead to 106-97 with four minutes left.
However, the Eastern Conference leaders allowed their guests to come no closer, with Irving scoring seven points down the stretch.
The Lakers had a strong showing offensively behind Lou Williams (28 points, 9-of-15) and Jordan Clarkson (22 points, seven assists and six rebounds), but the issue was on the other end.
The Cavaliers rarely hit a snag all night long, shooting 51.1 percent while coughing up only six turnovers. And when Cleveland did miss, it often still made the Lakers pay with a 25-5 advantage in second-chance points.
“Too many offensive rebounds,” head coach Byron Scott said. “We gave up too many easy baskets. I thought that was the difference in the first half.”
The Lakers shot 12-of-20 in the fourth quarter and outscored the Cavs, 37-27. … Tristan Thompson (15 points, 13 rebounds) had seven offensive boards for the Cavaliers. … Cleveland’s Kevin Love left the game at halftime due to a shoulder surgery. … A crowd of 20,562 sold out Quicken Loans Arena for Bryant’s final game in Cleveland.