LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers ran into a red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers team on Sunday afternoon, and the NBA superstar’s winning streak against his former team came to an end.
The Cavaliers got 33 points from Donovan Mitchell and 24 points from Darius Garland as they defeated the Lakers, 114-100. It was the Cavaliers’ eighth consecutive win, and they move to 8-1 on the season.
James scored 27 points in the loss but hadn’t suffered a defeat to the Cavaliers since March 2011 when he was with the Miami Heat. James was on the Lakers when the team lost to the Cavaliers in January 2019, but he was inactive. It’s only the second loss to Cleveland in his career.
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“You’ve always got to have respect for greatness,” said Mitchell, who grew up as a fan of James and the Cavaliers.
“When the greatest are on the floor, you just go out there and try to find a way to compete and get a win. We came out there and were just trying to do what we’ve been doing, and fortunately it was against Bron, but that wasn’t a talking point or anything.”
Garland added: “LeBron does a lot for the city, did a lot for the city. So, just having a whole different generation of guys with a whole bunch of talent, and just a great team overall that everybody loves, it would mean a lot for us and the city of Cleveland (to make the playoffs again). That’s what we’re pushing for.”
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James offered his opinion about the streaking Cavaliers. He said jokingly the last time he did that he “got in trouble,” referring to his potential interest in playing for Cleveland one more time.
“They did a great job in the offseason of picking up a big-time player,” he said. “They have a really good team and a great coach. A well-balanced team and a bunch of players (who) seem like they just really want to play ball.”
The Cavaliers haven’t made the playoffs without James since he entered the league. The team got to the play-in tournament last season but lost to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks.
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Cleveland is on its longest winning streak since a 13-game run in 2017 when James last played for the team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.