With postseason basketball nearly out of reach, the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to continue their strong play in the second half of the season and finish the season as close to a.500 winning percentage as possible.
Larry Nance Jr. - playing against his former team for the first time since he and Jordan Clarkson were traded to Cleveland for Thomas, Channing Frye and a protected first-round pick - had 16 points. Brook Lopez led the team with 29 points on 12 of 18 shooting, Julius Randle added 18 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17 points while Lonzo Ball chipped in with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
"He's a straight dog", Randle told ESPN about Thomas after the game.
James, who finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in the loss, heaped praise on Luke Walton for helping the young Lakers team blossom this season.
After all, James, at the age of 33, is already a 14-time All-Star who has been to the NBA Finals six seasons in a row, and by all appearances he's about to make it seven.
The power forward has seen an increased amount of looks at center and it has directly benefitted his play. Sources say are multiple teams have set their targets the restricted free agent big man (Dallas is near the front of that list), and his play is forcing the Lakers to reconsider their plans.
"I'll never accept a loss", Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said.
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Unfortunately, James' play wasn't enough to inspire the Cavs' to victory with the Lakers going on to take the match 127-113. "He bullied us the whole night, and we had no answer for him".
"I understand that I'm a free agent at the end of the summer, so I understand the frenzy that comes with it", James said in Friday shootaround in Westwood. "I feel like today we didn't really give ourselves a chance".
I.T. PROFESSIONAL: Thomas also shone in his first game against the Cavs since they ended their brief attempt to replace Kyrie Irving with the undersized scoring machine.
"I don't need to show anybody", Thomas said. Something I knew I could do.
Cavaliers: At the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
The Lakers could use more of that from Randle to compete in a brutal back-to-back this week against the Denver Nuggets and at the Golden State Warriors, with Brandon Ingram slated to miss both due to his recovery from a groin injury.
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