LeBron James received a standing ovation from supportive fans on his return to Cleveland before leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 109-105 win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday.
James scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and made seven assists to spark the Lakers, who closed the contest with an 18-6 run to win for the sixth time in seven games.
“We cranked up our defense in the fourth quarter,” James said. “They played a heck of a game but we kept our composure. We’re a young crew. We keep getting better.”
There were cheers when James trotted onto the court for pre-game warm-ups, a huge standing ovation when he was introduced and, after James scored on the Lakers’ first possession, a video highlight tribute to huge applause.
“To come back and get the reception I got, it means a lot not only to myself but my family,” James said.
“My 11 years I played for this franchise I tried to give everything I could on and off the court.”
The Lakers improved to 10-7, their best record since April 2013, while the Cavs have fared badly in James’ absence as they fell to an NBA-worst 2-14.
Meanwhile, reigning NBA champion Golden State suffered a fourth consecutive loss for the first time since 2013 as they were beaten 123-95 by Oklahoma City 123-95.
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for his 105th career triple double.
Also, NBA MVP James Harden scored 43 points and Clint Capela added 27 points and 15 rebounds to power the Houston Rockets over visiting Detroit 126-124.