Cruise control Cavs rally to beat Lakers

Cavs guard Kyrie Irving scoring on a lay-up past Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr in a 125-120 win at the Staples Center after a fourth-quarter spurt. The Cavaliers go 46-23 with the win and extend their Eastern Conference lead over the Boston Celtics t
Cavs guard Kyrie Irving scoring on a lay-up past Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr in a 125-120 win at the Staples Center after a fourth-quarter spurt. The Cavaliers go 46-23 with the win and extend their Eastern Conference lead over the Boston Celtics to 21/2 games.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue may have won the game, but he said his team had coasted for three quarters before launching a rally in the final period against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kyrie Irving scored 46 points, and the Cavaliers used a fourth-quarter burst to knock off the Lakers 125-120 in the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Sunday at Staples Center.

"They played well against us, but I know our team and the way we are," Lue said. "Sometimes, you have to understand it is not a show but a competition. When you get to L.A. and play teams like this, we consider it a show instead of competition. When you get down early, it hurts your confidence and you got to fight and try to win your game."

Irving connected on 15 of 21 shots from the floor and six of 10 from three-point range for the Cavaliers, who increased their lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference to 21/2 games.

LeBron James contributed 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Kevin Love added 21 points and 15 boards for Cleveland (46-23).

"Me and (James) kind of put the team on our back and everyone just followed suit," said Irving, who scored 25 points in the second half, 14 of those in the fourth quarter.

"We just did a great job of continuing to attack, and in the fourth quarter we locked down defensively."

D'Angelo Russell, who hit seven three-pointers, scored a career-high 40 points for the Lakers, who lost their fifth in a row.

Jordan Clarkson had 19 points and Brandon Ingram chipped in 18 for Los Angeles (20-50).

"It's just winning basketball," Irving said. "In the fourth quarter, there's no need to be nervous, no need to feel any type of pressure if there is such a thing. You just go out there and play."

Lakers coach Luke Walton was not surprised James and Irving, who combined for 28 points in the final period and 47 in the second half, rallied the Cavaliers.

"They're a top two or three team in the league and the defending champs," Walton said.

"Kyrie and LeBron not going to go away, that's what they do. That's why they' re two of the best. We had our chances to score and get stops and push and Kyrie made some really tough shots. Then, they obviously went small and just started switching everything."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'Cruise control Cavs rally to beat Lakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe