LeBron James and Cavaliers take two in Staples

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Photo above: LeBron James in pregame warmups.

Jay-Z was at the game Friday
Jay-Z was at the game Friday

Thursday Night LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers took down the L.A. Lakers in a game that was close for three-plus quarters of the game. James scored 36 points, 24 of them in the second half as he carried his team to a win. Friday they returned to Staples Center to meet the L.A. Clippers, a team with a winning record. It wasn’t considered impossible for the Cavaliers to win, but it was expected to be more difficult, even unlikely, especially considering the Clippers are coming off a big road win against the Portland Trailblazers.

Plus, the Clippers announced a big trade late Thursday Night, which brings Doc Rivers’ son, Austin Rivers to the team, a back up point guard for Chris Paul. The big issue for the Clippers has been their second unit. Jamal Crawford has been the only consistent player to come off the Clipper bench and if has an off night the bench offers nothing to the team, other than bodies to put on the floor.

Doc and Clippers management are hoping the young Rivers will pick up that second unit and give the starting lineup a chance to rest without feeling like the game is slipping away.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather attended the game.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather attended the game.

Kevin Love, power forward for Cleveland was having back spasms and could barely get up out of his chair to take the court on Thursday. On Friday the seven-foot center sat out the game. But that didn’t seem to hurt the Cavaliers’ chances of winning.

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On Thursday Night LeBron James dominated the second half of the game, scoring 36 points and then on Friday he dominated the fourth quarter, delivering 32 points for the night, along with 11 rebounds and seven assists. The big forward (6’8”, 250 lbs) scored a total of 68 points over two days.

And he had a really good team around him Friday Night.

Kyrie Irving was the top scorer for the night, putting in 37 points to go with his five assists and four rebounds. Tristan Thompson, filling in for the ailing Kevin Love, delivered 24 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. Thompson played as well as most starting centers in the league. Their other big center, Timofey Mozgov, played 26 minutes, delivering three rebounds and 12 points.

Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin

But it wasn’t an easy game for the Cavaliers. It stayed close and the lead changed several times. The Clippers stayed close enough to win right up to the final seconds of the game.

As usual Blake Griffin led his team in scoring with 34 points and 10 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Matt Barnes added 17 points and eight rebounds.

With Chris Paul getting 15 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds, plus J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford adding another 27 points, the Clippers didn’t lose for lack of trying.

As coach Doc Rivers said after the game, “We couldn’t get a stop. Everybody was making shots for them. They made you pay for everything.”

The consistent scoring by Cleveland took away the fast break for the Clippers, who use it to great advantage. The Cavaliers just didn’t give them those opportunities.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers

L.A. played very well against a team that has LeBron James at its center. When Cleveland was close to losing it in the fourth quarter, James found another gear the Clippers couldn’t match. He and Irving led Cleveland on a 20-7 scoring run that put the Cavs back in the lead when Jamal Crawford sunk a three to put the Clippers ahead, 100-97.

In the course of the night James, who is 30 years old, became the youngest player to score a career 24,000 points. He said it was due to his being healthy for most of his career and having great teammates around him wherever he played.

The Clippers newest player, Austin Rivers, didn’t have an impact on the game.

The final score was 126-121.

(All photos by Claudia Gestro)