LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 46 points, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers had to rally from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to edge the last-place Los Angeles Lakers, 125-120 on Sunday night.
Kevin Love had 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who needed every bit of their full lineup to survive a surprising challenge from the Western Conference’s last-place team and clinch a playoff spot.
James, Love and Irving all sat out the defending champs’ blowout loss to the Clippers on Saturday, angering fans and the national television audience. That night off left them with the energy to lead a 43-point fourth quarter.
D’Angelo Russell scored a career-high 40 points in a spectacular return to the starting lineup for the Lakers, who have lost five straight and 13 of 14.
Russell hit seven 3-pointers and had six assists while committing just one turnover in 41 minutes.
Jordan Clarkson added 19 points for the Lakers, and rookie Brandon Ingram had 18. All five Lakers starters scored in double figures for the first time since Christmas.
The Cavaliers were carried by their well-rested Big Three, with their teammates contributing just 24 points. Cleveland also lost starter Tristan Thompson in the third quarter when he injured his mouth in a collision with Julius Randle.
After falling behind in the first half and trailing 94-83 early in the fourth quarter, Cleveland finally got rolling behind Irving, who hit six 3-pointers.
Russell hit his new career high on a three-point play with 5:49 to play, but he didn’t score again. The Cavs tied it at 104 moments later on a layup by James.
After Russell committed his only turnover of the night, Irving hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and started Cleveland’s roll to its fifth straight win over the Lakers.
Cleveland eventually made a 21-6 run during the fourth quarter of its fourth win in six games.
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