For the last time ever, two legends matched up across from one another. For the 22nd and final time, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant faced off. Not shockingly, the Cavaliers won 120-108, but Kobe and LeBron treated the fans to a duel that turned back the hands of time.
The two future Hall of Famers got off to modest starts. LeBron scored just six while Kobe registered eight and the Cavs had a 33-31 lead after one. Kevin Love didn’t play for Cleveland, and Coach Lue called Channing Frye’s number and Frye had 11 first quarter points to lead everyone.
LeBron and Kobe continued their duel in the second quarter, and both stars had seven points a piece, but Cleveland outscored LA 31-24 in the quarter. Los Angeles got eight points from Julius Randle in the second, but that was about it. As for Cleveland, they got great efforts from the team all-around, including Channing Frye, who continued his hot start and finished the quarter with five points and three boards.
The Cavaliers had a 64-55 lead entering the half, and Bryant and Frye led the scoring with 15 and 16, respectively. LBJ had 13 points and five assists and Kyrie Irving was a tad reluctant to score, attempting nine shots and tallying nine points; he registered six assists.
Behind 14 combined points from LeBron and Kyrie, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 31-point third quarter, but the Lakers kept it close and put up 27 of their own. Their efforts were headed by Russell and Kobe, who had ten and seven, respectively.
The fourth quarter was all Kyrie Irving. Uncle Drew put up ten of his 26 in the last period while LeBron had just four points because he spent a majority of the fourth on the bench. LA was able to outscore the Cavs in the quarter, 26-25, but it was too little too late. Kobe finished with 26 points on 11/16 and had one of his most efficient games this season.
LeBron had 24 points, seven assists, and five boards while Kyrie led the Cavs in scoring with 26, and also dished out nine assists.
Although James and Bryant never met in the playoffs, their impact on the game is one that won’t be forgotten. These are, undeniably, two of the game’s greatest players and to see their final meeting end like this was truly something special.
The Cavaliers are in the STAPLES Center once again on Sunday to face the Clippers. The Lakers next game is Sunday as well, and they’ll be at home to face the Knicks.
Around The League
“We have to start treating Kawhi Leonard like a superstar,” said Shaq before the Spurs and Bulls faced off on TNT and boy, is he right. Leonard had 29 points on 10/15 shooting and added seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks in a 109-101 victory. LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 and 10, and Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol each recorded 21.
Devin Booker and Emmanuel Mudiay had a mighty duel in Denver. The rookie guards both had 30+ point performances, with Booker having 35 and Mudiay having 30. Denver won 116-98, but Booker became just the fifth 19-year-old since 1963 to have a 35-point game and the first since Kevin Durant in 2008.
DeMar DeRozan recorded his 13th 30-point game of the season in a win over the Hawks, 104-96. He’s tied for the eighth most 30-point games this year with Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. Al Horford led Atlanta with 20, but they dropped down to sixth in the standings behind Charlotte.
ATL 96 – TOR 104
CHI 101 – SAS 109
PHX 98 – DEN 116
CLE 120 – LAL 108