The Cleveland Cavaliers improved to 2-1 on their five-game road trip thanks to a great day from their latest addition.
Luol Deng, who is in his third game with the Cavaliers after being traded from the Chicago Bulls, was 5-5 from three-point range, making three consecutive three pointers to start the second half on a 9-0 run for the Cleveland, to lead the Cavs to a 120-118 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The game featured two teams trying to figure themselves out for different reasons. The Lakers have had the injuries pile on this year, including Kobe Bryant and their first three options at point guard.
Cleveland is now 10-5 against L.A. since the 2005-06 All-Star break, the best record of any team against Los Angeles.
The game stayed close throughout, with the biggest lead reaching 11 by the Lakers. After the Cavs led by by five at the end of the first quarter, L.A. began to knock down shots, outscoring Cleveland 40-29 in the second.
Deng had his best day since joining the Cavaliers, scoring 27 points on 60% shooting. He also added five rebounds and four assists and was the emotional leader for the Cavs in a game where they needed someone to step up.
The team as a whole shot well on the night, especially from long range. They finished 46.6% from the floor, but 76.5% from three-point range.
Aside from Deng, five other members of the Cavaliers scored in double figures, including 18 points and 18 rebounds from Anderson Varejao.
Tristan Thompson scored 15 and had 13 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving scored 13 and Matthew Dellavedova finished with 11.
In a battle of two of the top scoring sixth men this season, Nick Young outscored Dion Waiters off the bench. Young finished with 28 points and tied a career-high six assists. Waiters only managed 17 points, but helped his team get the win.
Young rushed a three-point attempt with nine seconds left to tie the game after Thompson made one-of-two free throws. Cleveland again could only manage one-of-two at the line, but L.A. only got a putback at the buzzer.
Aside from Young's 28, the Lakers got 26 points and four assists from Jodie Meeks on 9-14 shooting. Pau Gasol also had a good night, despite being a game-time decision with an issue with his foot. He finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Wesley Johnson had 17 points on the night.
Kendall Marshall had one of his best games as a pro with 10 points and 16 assists.
The Cavaliers are now a game and half back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and only six games behind the third-place Toronto Raptors.
The road trip continues with the second of a back-to-back Wednesday night, as Cleveland travels north to take on the Portland Trail Blazers who have the second-best record in the NBA. These two met a month ago in Ohio, with the Cavaliers falling by three, 119-116.
It would be a big win for the Cavs if they could get revenge on Portland for the loss and guarantee a winning record on this trip.
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