LeBron James returns and the Lakers are on defense in a win over the Cavaliers

Frank Vogel he wants to build, and on Friday he got back his most prized material.

Lebron James returned to the line against Cleveland z Lakers focused on how their defense from one of the worst in the NBA can become one of the best.

The process will not be easy and without James the plan is probably useless. But even with him, in six games this NBA season, it’s hard to see anything more than conceptually what the Lakers are doing.

“Like building a house. You know, you build a house or you add, you have all these construction workers in the house and it’s a torment … and there’s plastic and sawdust and it’s a pain …, ”Vogel wrote a colorful Friday morning. “But you keep saying to yourself, ‘When this is done, it will be great.’ You know what I mean, we’re there right now.

“For example, it’s frustrating to see where we are, but I know where it will lead. And we are thrilled. ”

And maybe, if it was one project, the Lakers would be able to make all the mess – a tool scattered on the floor and paint sprayed on the floor. But this team is not there. That’s more jobs, all overdue and over budget.

This is not a problem. That’s all. And that will be a lot of work.

Even when going against the Cavaliers at the Staples Center, it mostly looked too heavy and too inconsistent. So it was with the Lakers ’first two wins, who had to be late with Memphis before beating San Antonio after extra time.

But at least on Friday, there was progress on the defensive side of the ball, where Vogel’s vision focused more clearly on 113-101 wins.

The Lakers had a lot to improve on.

They tried to stop the intrusion of the guards. They are slow at rotations and lazily get beaten on backdoor cuts. They kill themselves on the glass, giving teams a second, third and sometimes fourth chance. They give up indisputable blows. They miss more than almost anyone else in the NBA.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio shot Lakers defender Russell Westbrook in the first quarter.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Lakers teammates Anthony Davis, left, and Russell Westbrook celebrate after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

Lakers teammates Anthony Davis, left, and Russell Westbrook celebrate after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

They are in a mess in attack, triggering as many passes to empty seats on the pitch as to those they occupy.

And even though they make a lot of triples, they miss a lot of free throws. They play with the spacing of an overfilled sock drawer.

Some of that was healed on Friday, the Lakers Cleveland scoring 101 points on a 42.5 percent shot. It was the first time the Lakers had a team with less than 114 points.

Cleveland scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter.

And offensively, the Lakers have shrunk after a stupid start and become the kind of transition monster they hope to become. “We’re still learning from each other,” Vogel said.

That’s why it’s all so frustrating because of the talent on the list, four of the 75 best NBA players of all time – and one just out in Dwight Howard – all wear purple and gold.

Against the Cavaliers, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony and James did enough to overcome the shortcomings.

Even when James scored 1 for 10 from a three-point range, he scored 26 on his return. Westbrook, an agent of chaos, triggered the Lakers ’big runs by pumping fuel into their heavy legs.

Davis was mostly quiet, but he helped close the game with a block, and Anthony continued to hit shots – he hit six of eight three-pointers at 24.

It can flash well – it stops leading to results and the Lakers move closer to Vogel’s vision of what the group can achieve with this talent. then after a handful of possessions it usually disappears.

At least James is back after missing the previous two games due to a sore ankle, an injury that essentially ended his season – and the Lakers – a year ago.

Things in the first half could have been much, much worse on Friday as they struggled and tied.

The same in the third quarter when they needed a late series with 12-0 to gain a three point advantage and then into the fourth.

After a premature lead of six, they quickly fell behind by 11, their ups and downs increasing in their teens when the Cavaliers lagged behind former USC star Evan Mobley and held on comfortably against Davis – a player he has often been compared to.

The Lakers scored anyway, staying within reach, so they were able to equalize the game by halftime, thanks to a 6-0 series triggered by luck. Mobley missed a dunk and while the basket was still swaying, Colin Sexton missed a kickback, allowing the Lakers to run.

The Lakers insist there are seeds of greatness there.

“We’re going to have a great season,” Vogel said before the game.

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