CLEVELAND, January 22 – LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers for the second time this season Thursday, downing the reigning NBA champions 93-87.
The Cavaliers, who embarrassed the Lakers in a Christmas Day contest, saw to it that the Lakers’ eight-game road trip got off to a rocky start, and spoiled any pleasure Bryant might have felt in reaching an NBA scoring milestone.
James scored 37 points, including 12 straight in the closing stretch, while JJ Hickson pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds and Anderson Varejao made three free throws in the last 20 seconds as Cleveland came out on top in a clash of the NBA’s two top teams.
The Cavaliers were playing their first game without Mo Williams, the All-Star pointguard who is expected to miss at least a month with a sprained shoulder.
Bryant surpassed 25,000 career points in the first half, becoming the 15th player to do so.