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Lakers 113, Cavaliers 93

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Lakers utilized a balanced effort to defeat the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers 113-93 on Sunday night at Staples Center.

The loss ended a season-worst six-game losing streak for the Lakers, who got a boost by the return of All Star center Dwight Howard from a shoulder injury after he missed just three games.

Los Angeles led by 11 points less than five minutes into the game, went up by 19 by the end of the first quarter and never let up on a Cleveland team that shot just 41 percent from the field.

With Howard back in the fold earlier than expected from a torn labrum in his right shoulder, the Lakers did what they haven't done all January: win.

Howard had 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting as Los Angeles shot a season-high 58 percent from the field. Howard had 16 points and eight rebounds in the first half to lead the Lakers to a 12-point lead.

More significantly for a team that has struggled defensively throughout the season, the Lakers (16-21) held Cleveland (9-30) to just 38 percent shooting in the first half and 4-of-21 from 3-point range for the game.

Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 23 points and added six assists, and Antawn Jamison had 16 points off the bench for the Lakers, who thrived despite 22 turnovers, including seven by Howard.

Earl Clark, who has taken a more prominent role in the absence of Pau Gasol (concussion), had 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Los Angeles.

Kyrie Irving had 15 points and seven assists to lead Cleveland, but scored just four points in the second half. Dion Waiters also added 15 for the Cavaliers, and Alonzo Gee had 14 points.

NOTES: Gasol missed his fourth straight game despite participating in shooting exercises. He has had numerous neurological tests since suffering the concussion after being elbowed by Denver's Javale McGee on Jan. 6. With Gasol, Howard and Jordan Hill (hip tear, out for season) sidelined in recent games, the Lakers have turned to Clark, who averaged a double-double in his first three starts heading into Sunday. ... The Cavaliers won the teams' first matchup, 100-94, on Dec. 11, 2012, despite a game-high 42 points from Bryant. Irving had 28 points and 11 assists and C.J. Miles added 28 points for the Cavaliers. ... The Lakers were just 4-6 in their last 10 matchups with Cleveland entering Sunday's game. ... Los Angeles' 15-21 record heading into the game was the team's worst 36-game start since 1993-94, when it went 11-25 to open the year.
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