Young Lakers impress LeBron during victory over Cavaliers


If this game was a Hollywood audition, the young Los Angeles Lakers certainly did well enough to impress budding entertainment mogul LeBron James.

The Lakers will have to wait until summer to find out whether they earned a callback — or maybe even got the part.

Julius Randle had a career-high 36 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and the Lakers put on a show in front of James with a 127-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.

Isaiah Thomas had 20 points, nine assists and five rebounds against his former teammates as the Lakers roared away from the defending Eastern Conference champions in the second half with their exciting, energetic style under coach Luke Walton.

“Since Luke took over, they’ve improved every single season, I think,” said James, who had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. “They just try to implement that ball movement, that body movement that he got when he was in Golden State.”

The Lakers’ entire season has been designed to prove their young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and probably Randle could fit splendidly around James, Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins — or failing that, the top free agents in the class of 2019.

The Lakers’ exciting performance against Cleveland underlined that notion, for whatever it’s worth in James’ mind.

“We’re just connecting at both ends, and we’re able to really establish the way that we want to play,” Randle said. “It’s been great.”

Raptors 132, Knicks 106

In New York, Jonas Valanciunas scored 17 points, Kyle Lowry had 16 and Toronto kept right on rolling after a big win two nights earlier, beating the Knicks for its season-high eighth straight victory.

The Raptors had no letdown after edging NBA-leading Houston on Friday in a matchup of the No. 1 teams in each conference, leading much of the game even with All-Star DeMar DeRozan shooting just 4-for-16 for nine points.

Pacers 99, Celtics 97

In Boston, Victor Oladipo scored 27 points, then committed a dead-ball offensive foul with 1.5 seconds left that gave the Celtics a shot to win at the buzzer, but the Pacers held on for the win.

With fans heading for the exits, Boston’s Jason Tatum hit a seemingly meaningless layup to cut the deficit to two points with only 1.5 seconds left. But before the ball could be inbounded, Oladipo was whistled when his elbow caught Marcus Morris in the face. A review confirmed the call.

The Celtics inbounded the ball to Rozier, who took a long 2-pointer that bounced off the near side of the rim.

Timberwolves 109, Warriors 103

In Minneapolis, Karl-Anthony Towns helped Minnesota stop a season-longest three-game losing streak with 31 points and 16 rebounds, and the Timberwolves powered their way past Golden State down the stretch to hand the Warriors their second straight defeat without Stephen Curry.

Kevin Durant had 39 points and 12 rebounds for Golden State, which left Curry at home for this road trip to rest an injured right ankle and lost 125-108 to Portland on Friday.

Rockets 105, Mavericks 82

In Dallas, Eric Gordon scored 26 points and Chris Paul had 24 points and 12 assists as Houston, playing without James Harden, beat the Mavericks.

The Rockets rested Harden because of a sore left knee, but had plenty of 3-point shooting even without their MVP candidate. Houston, which had its 17-game win streak snapped Friday in Toronto, broke the game open in the third quarter by hitting their first six 3s of the period amid a 22-10 run. The Rockets finished 17-for-45 from deep.

Nuggets 130, Kings 104

In Denver, Nikola Jokic had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season, Gary Harris added 21 points and the Nuggets cruised past Sacramento.

Denver led by as many as 36 points while staying in the thick of the playoff chase. The Nuggets now enter a difficult stretch in their schedule — eight of their next nine games are on the road.

Bulls 129, Hawks 122

In Atlanta, Zach LaVine scored 21 points, including four free throws in the final 17 seconds to stop the Hawks’ comeback, and Chicago beat the injury-depleted Hawks.

Bobby Portis also had 21 points for the Bulls.

Jazz 116, Pelicans 99

In New Orleans, Ricky Rubio had 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Utah overcame Anthony Davis’ first career triple-double for a victory over the Pelicans that extended the Jazz’s winning streak to six.

Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points, including 15 during the last 3:08 of the third quarter to put Utah in front for good in what could be an important victory in a tightly packed race for one of the Western Conference’s final five playoff spots.

76ers 120, Nets 97

In New York, Joel Embiid scored 21 points, Robert Covington added 19, and Philadelphia routed the Nets.

Dario Saric scored 18 points and Ben Simmons had 11 points, six assists and six rebounds for the 76ers, who were able to avenge a disappointing loss to Brooklyn at Barclays Center in January.