Duo trade shots and talk throughout game at Staples Center…
The Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James secured a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant on Thursday night in a battle between two stars.
James scored 36 points as the Cavs snapped their six-game losing streak with a win over the Lakers as Bryant put up 19 points and a career-high 17 assists in reply.
The pair traded hugs, shots and verbals throughout the game as Bryant relished the prospect of going up against his rival and friend, but there was little else he could do to help the Lakers avoid another defeat.
The 36-year-old has struggled with general body soreness over the past month and coach Byron Scott continues to manage him minutes and games, but Bryant relished the chance to go against James on Thursday night.
“If we were contending for a championship, I’d be my same moody self,” Bryant said. “But right now, I tend to have a little more perspective, knowing I really won’t get a chance to play against him for much longer. So you want to enjoy it.”
Elsewhere, the Houston Rockets were boosted by 31 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists from James Harden as they overcame the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The victory marked Rockets coach Kevin McHale’s 200th coaching win, and it was sparked by a 40-point first quarter as the Rockets didn’t look back and kept Kevin Durant at bay as he finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
OKC have now lost three of their last four games as they slip to 18-20 for the season which leaves them trailing the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Earlier in the day, the NBA London game tipped off at the O2 Arena with the Milwaukee Bucks running out comfortable winners over the New York Knicks.
Brandon Knight had 20 points, five rebounds and six assists in another impressive performance as he led his team to a win which improves their record for the season to 21-19.
Carmelo Anthony returned for the Knicks and scored 25 points, but it wasn’t enough to avoid another heavy defeat as their losing streak was extended to 16 games.
The Knicks have now lost 26 of 27 games and are an NBA-worst 5-36 as they disappointed the London crowd to an extent, but the Bucks march on with another impressive team effort with contributions across the roster.
New York Knicks 79-95 Milwaukee Bucks
Oklahoma City Thunder 101-112 Houston Rockets
Cleveland Cavaliers 109-102 Los Angeles Lakers