LOS ANGELES – Donovan Mitchell returned from injury to score 33 points and lead Cleveland to a 114-100 NBA victory over former Cavaliers star LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Darius Garland added 24 points and the Cavs pulled away in the second half against a lackluster Lakers side that got only two points from star Anthony Davis after the interval.
Jarrett Allen added 16 points for the Cavaliers, who won their eighth straight and at 8-1 are second to the 9-0 Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference.
The winning streak is Cleveland’s longest since a 13-game streak in 2017 — James’s final season with the club.
Meanwhile, the sputtering Lakers fell to 2-7. They led by as many as 12 in the first half and were up by six at the break, but couldn’t muster a response as they were outscored 56-36 in the second half.
“All of our spirit seemed to have left the building, and that’s one of the parts of re-establishing a winning culture is being able to maintain a competitive spirit,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.
“What we saw in the first half is how we want to play. We were right there going toe-to-toe with them, we actually had the lead going into halftime.
“And then second half, again, shots don’t go down, a few turnovers happen and we kind of dropped our heads a little bit and they just kept revving it up, revving it up, revving it up. And they are an extremely talented ball club with extremely talented players.
“We have to continue to fight and that can’t change, continue to be competitive and that can’t change. We have to do a better job of keeping our focus and not getting down.”
James scored 27 points and Davis had 19 with 12 rebounds. Russell Westbrook scored 19 points and handed out 10 assists to go with seven turnovers.
But with their offense sputtering late, the Lakers couldn’t find a way to shut down Mitchell and Garland, who had missed six of Cleveland’s previous seven games with eye and knee injuries.
Mitchell, a three-time All-Star guard who joined the Cavaliers from the Utah Jazz in September, has scored 30 or more points in six of eight games with his new team.
He said Cleveland, trying to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign, wasn’t focused on their former star James.
“I grew up a Cavs fan so I’m very aware of LeBron, but I don’t think that was what we brought into the game,” Mitchell said.
“You’ve always got to have respect for greatness,” he said, but noted: “At the end of the day, we’re here to win.”
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