The Los Angeles Lakers hoped to salvage their road trip and get one win, but would face a tough test in the suddenly resurgent Cleveland Cavaliers. The Lakers came into the game having lost the first three games of their road trip, with the last two coming in overtime.
The Cavaliers had won 12 straight before falling in their last game in Indiana. Despite that, the team has been much improved since the additions of Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert while LeBron James has looked more like himself since returning from injury.
Cleveland won the competitive first matchup at Staples Center 109-102, but Kobe Bryant obviously wasn’t be around this time. The Lakers came into the game with a 13-37 record while the Cavs stand at 31-21, fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland got started quickly as LeBron James easily moved Jordan Clarkson out of the way for an offensive rebound and basket. Kevin Love followed with a hook to quickly put Cleveland ahead 4-0, but the Lakers responded behind baskets from Clarkson and Wayne Ellington. Wesley Johnson subbed in quickly and immediately scored five points to put the Lakers ahead 9-7. Clarkson scored on back-to-back layups, but a layup and foul from Kyrie Irving put Cleveland ahead by a point. Clarkson hit Johnson for an easy layup as the Lakers went back ahead midway through the quarter. Boozer came in and immediately made an impact with an offensive rebound and layup, followed by an assist to Clarkson to put LA ahead by three. Irving hit Mozgov on a nice alley-oop and followed with a beautiful reverse layup, but Johnson continued his excellent first quarter with a three to put the Lakers back ahead by two. Back-to-back threes from Irving got the crowd going, but a Boozer bank shot kept the Lakers close. Another Irving assist to Mozgov and two LeBron free throws game Cleveland a six point lead, but Jeremy Lin went coast-to-coast for a layup to end the quarter as the Lakers trailed 32-28.
Cleveland scored the first five points of the quarter on a three from Iman Shumpert and a Tristan Thompson dunk before free throws from Ed Davis put the Lakers on the board. Nick Young made a nice fadeaway, and Boozer hit a jumper as well, but the Shumpert got out ahead for an easy fast break dunk to put Cleveland up eight. Boozer had a three-point play, but got posterized on the other end as Shumpert caught a lob over his back on an out of bounds play to keep Cleveland ahead by seven. Tarik Black got going with an easy layup off a Lin assist and a putback slam over Kevin Love to bring the Lakers within three. Cleveland quickly struck back with Mozgov and Love baskets followed by a Shumpert dunk on a Nick Young turnover. A Love three-pointer gave Cleveland their first double-digit lead and another one put the Cavs up 15 with under three minutes left in the half. Ellington hit a shot after the timeout, but the Cleveland run continued as Love hit two more threes and Mozgov got another dunk. The Lakers scored the last six points of the half, however to make it a 15 point game.
Love kept up his hot streak with a jumper to start the quarter and Black responded with a layup on the other end for the Lakers. LeBron began to get going in the quarter with seven straight points for the Cavs and Ryan Kelly drove the lane for a floater, but the Cavs remained ahead by 20. LeBron hit another three-pointer as Cleveland really began to put the game out of reach for the short-handed Lakers. Clarkson had a nice drive for a layup, but Irving would hit a three as Cleveland pulled ahead by 24. The Cavs kept pouring it on as Mozgov stuffed Sacre at the rim as the lead was as high as 26. The Lakers continued to fight, but as the Cavs defense tightened, the offense was unable to get going. Clarkson continued to be the only Lakers starter playing at a high level as he keyed a 10-0 Lakers run to cut the Cleveland lead to 16. LeBron finally ended the Lakers run with a couple of baskets and Davis got a layup and assist to Black to keep the Lakers deficit at 16. Kevin Love continued his torrid shooting night as he hit two more threes. Ellington hit a three at the buzzer as the Lakers trailed 96-79 after three quarters.
Irving got the scoring started with four quick points to put the Cavaliers lead back over the 20 point mark. Ed Davis had a nice hook, but a couple of Thompson dunks pushed Cleveland’s lead up to 25. Davis hit another layup, but Irving came right back with another three which was then followed by a floater from Jeremy Lin. Lin would hit a three-pointer as well, but the Lakers still trailed by 22 midway through the fourth. Davis continued another solid game as his layup gave him 14 points to go along with eight rebounds and he remained a bright spot in another Lakers loss. Young and Shumpert exchanged three-pointers and Lin hit another jumper as the Lakers remained down by 20 as the game came down the stretch. A Wesley Johnson three gave the final margin of 120-105 as the Lakers fell to the Cavs.
Kevin Love On The Lakers Without Kobe Bryant