Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant recorded 20 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 105-88 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a battle of NBA heavyweights.
Bryant, the reigning league MVP, played the duration of the game with a dislocated ring finger on his shooting hand. He was injured in the first quarter while defending Cleveland's LeBron James, who is the early front- runner for this season's MVP award, but Bryant had the finger popped back into place and quickly returned.
Pau Gasol had 22 points on 11-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds, as the Lakers (32-8) snapped a five-game losing streak to the Cavaliers overall and moved ahead of Cleveland (31-8) in the league standings. Andrew Bynum provided 14 points and six rebounds, while Sasha Vujacic made 4-of-5 three-point attempts in a 14-point effort.
James had a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but shot 9-of-25 from the field for the Cavaliers, who had won four of five overall and two straight at Staples Center against the Lakers. Mo Williams added 16 points, while Sasha Pavlovic contributed 12 in the loss.
Pavlovic's three with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first staked the Cavs to an early 18-11 lead, but Bryant's three-point play got the Lakers to within two, 20-18, two minutes later.
Vujacic drained a three in the closing seconds of the quarter to give LA a 26-24 edge heading into the second. The Lakers scored the last eight points of the period to take the lead.
LA led by six early in the second, 37-31, after Bynum's basket, but the Cavs scored seven straight points to take the lead on Wally Szczerbiak's jumper at the midway point of the period.
Neither team led by more than three for the remainder of the half, and Cleveland held a slim 50-49 edge at halftime.
James' jumper gave the Cavs a three-point lead to start the third, but LA went on a 13-3 run to seize a 62-55 edge, as Bryant's jumper capped the burst with 6:43 left in the period.
The Lakers increased their edge to nine, 75-66, entering the fourth quarter.
Bryant's fadeaway jumper over James gave the Lakers an 82-72 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the game, and on the next possession he hit a baseline leaner over James for a 12-point advantage.
After the Lakers increased the lead to 18, the Cavs answered with an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 91-84 with 3 1/2 minutes left on James' tip shot.
That was as close as Cleveland got, however, as LA got the lead back to double digits on a Gasol dunk and never looked back.