Howard had missed the last three games with a right shoulder injury and the Lakers had been ailing on the court with a six-game losing streak, but they broke out in a big way to snap the stretch.
Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, missing just two shots from the field, and Kobe Bryant added 23 and six assists and was not needed for the fourth quarter of an easy win.
Los Angeles are still without big men Pau Gasol, who missed a fourth straight contest with a concussion, as well as Jordan Hill, who may be out the rest of the season because of a hip injury.
The Lakers (16-21) have fallen well short of the lofty expectations set by their talented roster, as defensive issues and rumoured personnel problems have surrounded their defeats.
While still out of the current Western Conference playoff picture, a much-needed win could put them back on the right track.
Los Angeles outscored the Cavaliers 37-20 in the first quarter and held the visitors at bay from there.
Steve Nash chipped in 10 points and nine assists in the triumph. (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles. Editing by Patrick Johnston)
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles