Lakers 113 - Cavaliers 93 (end of regulation)
The Lakers finally welcomed in the New Year, getting their first win of 2013. Before Sunday night’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-93, the Lakers had lost six straight games.
Dwight Howard made a strong return from a shoulder injury, scoring 22 points with 14 rebounds. After three games off, Howard was a little rusty, turning the ball over seven times.
The Lakers survived 22 turnovers but shot 58% from the field and 52% from three-point range (13-25) to get a relatively easy victory.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 23 points. The Lakers had six players in double figures including Antawn Jamison (16), Darius Morris (14), Earl Clark (13), Steve Nash (10), Bryant and Howard.
Clark had another strong game starting for the injured Pau Gasol (concussion), collecting nine rebounds and four assists to go with his 13 points.
The Cavaliers shot 41.1% from the field, led by Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters with 15 apiece.
The Lakers won every quarter except the second but the Cavaliers didn't score more than 25 in any frame.
The Lakers improve to 16-21 while the Cavaliers drop to 9-30.
Lakers 86 - Cavaliers 69 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers had a stronger third quarter, making up the five points they gave back to the Cavaliers at halftime.
If it weren't for their 20 turnovers, the Lakers would have long iced Cleveland by the end of the third. The Lakers shot 62.7% from the field, 53.3% from three and made 14-19 free throws (73.7%).
The Cavaliers shot 40.8%, taking just 10 free throws (making nine).
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 23. Dwight Howard chipped in 22.
Kyrie Irving put in 15 to lead the Cavaliers. Dion Waiters helped carry some of the offense for Cleveland in the third, scoring 12 points through three.
Lakers 57 - Cavaliers 45 (halftime)
The Lakers lead over the Cavaliers diminished slightly in the second as Cleveland increased their effort defensively to close within 12 by the half.
After turning the ball over four times in the first quarter, the Lakers had nine turnovers in the second (one after another after another).
The Lakers were out-scored 25-20 in the period. Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 17 points. Dwight Howard had 16.
Alonzo Gee had 12 to lead the Cavaliers on 4-5 shooting. Kyrie Irving, hounded by Kobe Bryant, scored 11 on 5-6 shooting but the Cavaliers shot 38.3% from the field as a team.
Other than Gee and Irving, the rest of the Cavaliers shot 9-35 from the field (25.7%).
Shooting guard Jodie Meeks didn't play, with Darius Morris playing the reserve minutes behind Bryant.
Lakers 37 - Cavaliers 20 (end of first quarter)
Dwight Howard returned from a three-game absence to help the Lakers open up an early lead over the Cavaliers.
The Lakers played arguably their best quarter of basketball in weeks, scoring 37 on 65% shooting from the field while simultaneously playing defense (the main missing ingredient of late), holding Cleveland to 36.4% shooting.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 12 points along with five assists. Dwight Howard had 10 and Earl Clark, making his second start of the season with the Lakers for the injured Pau Gasol, had seven.
Kyrie Irving, guarded by Bryant, hit all three of his shots for seven points to lead the Cavaliers.
The Lakers (15-21) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (9-29) on Sunday night. The Cavaliers will go without big man Anderson Varejao (leg). L.A. will still be without Pau Gasol (concussion), Jordan Hill (hip) and Steve Blake (abdominal surgery), but center Dwight Howard will return to the lineup after missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury.
Cleveland's young point guard Kyrie Irving has been an immediate impact player since coming into the league last season. The Lakers have problems defensively and Irving will be a difficult cover.
The Lakers are in danger of missing the playoffs, and while it's only January, a win against the Cavaliers is all but mandatory.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Cavaliers.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.