Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said a Cleveland Cavaliers front office executive motivated his 46-point performance on Monday in Cleveland. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 26 (UPI) -- LeBron James spotted a Cleveland Cavaliers executive cheering a shot he missed during a game Monday night between his Los Angeles Lakers and his former team -- and responded with a 21-point fourth quarter en route to victory.
James finished the night with a season-high 46 points in the 115-108 win on Monday in Cleveland.
The four-time NBA MVP who spent 11 seasons playing for the Cavaliers hadn't returned to Cleveland for more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the Lakers trailing 89-87 near the end of the third quarter, James attempted to tie the game with a fadeaway shot, but missed at the buzzer. He then spotted the member of the Cavaliers' front office applauding the miss, and shook his head before returning for the stellar fourth-quarter finish.
"I felt like he was just a little bit too excited about seeing me miss," James later told reporters. "He was really excited about me missing that shot. A little bit more extra than I would have liked.
"But he's got to root for his team, obviously. And he was. He showcased that.
"So I knew I had another quarter, and the fourth quarter is my favorite."
JaVale McGee increased the Cavaliers lead to four points with a layup at the start of the final frame. Montrezl Harrell responded with a dunk for the Lakers before James scored six-consecutive points to put the Lakers in front, 95-91.
James personally outscored the Cavaliers 21-19 in the final quarter, making 9 of 10 field goal attempts and going 3-4 from 3-point range. He also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the victory.
James, 36, is averaging 25.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game this season.
Cavaliers center Andre Drummond had 25 points and 17 rebounds in Monday's loss and forward Cedi Osman chipped in 20 points.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lakers (14-4) next face the Philadelphia 76ers at 7:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday in Philadelphia, and the Cavs (8-9) host the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. EST at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
St. Vincent-St. Mary High School senior LeBron James (L) drives around a Zanesvuille defender in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 2003. James is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. A couple months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers coach was suspended
because James worked out with the team before he graduated from high school. Photo by Tom Cammett/UPI | License Photo