With LeBron James long gone, the Cleveland Cavaliers (8-30) annual trip to Los Angeles to play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (28-11) did not carry the same hype and anticipation of the past seven years.
Sporting the worst record in the league and amid a 10-game losing steak, the game wasn’t slated to be a challenging matchup for the Lakers; however, with recent struggles at home to sub-.500 teams, the Lakers entered the game looking for a win to improve on their string of four consecutive wins.
The Lakers opened the game feeling hot from behind the arc, as Fisher hit three-pointers from both corners and Ron Artest nailed a triple of his own to give the Lakers an early 9-2 lead over the Cavs.
Then, the Lakers took advantage of the Cavaliers’ heavily depleted interior, which will be without starting center Anderson Varejao for the rest of the season due to a torn ankle tendon. Six points from Andrew Bynum and four points by Pau Gasol paced the Lakers, who jumped out to an early 23-8 advantage.
In addition to an effortless first quarter offensive performance, was the presence of the Lakers’ defense, which forced the Cavaliers to miss nine of their first 10 attempts, and shoot a dismal 27.3 percent in the quarter.
After the Cavs finally broke double-digits with only one minute remaining in the period, Shannon Brown converted two free throws to give the Lakers a 15 point lead – 27-12 – after the first 12 minutes of play.
The Lakers continued their handling of the Cavs in the second quarter, as the Killer B’s improved the Lakers lead to 22 halfway through the period.
A 19-foot jumper by Shannon Brown at the 7:05 mark ignited an 11-0 run for the Lakers, who continued to pour it on the Cavs with every possession.
After a 3-pointer by Ron Artest gave the Lakers a 28-point lead, the Cavs attempted to stop the Lakers 14-2 run, but right out of the timeout, the Lakers picked up a defensive stop and Bynum scored on the next possession down to give the Lakers a 30-point cushion.
Cleveland’s Manny Harris split a pair of free throws, however, Kobe found Gasol down low, who completed a three-point play – giving the Lakers their largest lead of the night, 57-23.
A basket in the final moments of the period by the Cavs’ Christian Eyenga, cut the Lakers advantage to 32, the two teams entered the halftime break with a lopsided scoreboard, 57-25.
The third quarter was just more of the same, as the Lakers continued their demolition of the Cavs; and they did so in every which way imaginable: hitting from the outside, scoring in the paint and getting to the foul line – en route to taking a 50-point lead with just over three minutes remaining in the second to last period.
After entering the period with only two points, Kobe posted 11 in the third quarter to give him 13 on the night before being taken out with just under two minutes to play.
Just when the Cavs didn’t think it could get worse, the Lakers found a way to do so, as Shannon Brown it a 42-foot jumper to give the Lakers a 51-point advantage, 92-41, heading into the fourth and final period.
The Cavs’ offense saw a slight boost in the final 12 minutes of play as they outscored the Lakers 6-2 to start the fourth period. Even with their reserves in for most of the period, the Lakers maintained a stronghold on the Cavs, coasting to a 55 point win, 112-57
Pau Gasol led the way for the Lakers, finishing with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
In the victory the Lakers spread the wealth, seeing seven different players score in double figures, while 11 Laker players scored at least one basket.
It was a record-breaking performance for the Lakers, marking the franchise’s best defensive effort during the shot clot era. It was also the Lakers’ third-largest margin of victory since moving to Los Angeles.
Despite struggling from the offensive end for much of this season, Artest had a strong outing, finishing with 15 points on 6-11 shooting, to go along with six rebounds and five assists.
The Lakers will play in the second game of their back-to-back set tomorrow night as they travel to San Francisco, Calif. looking to extend their winning streak to six games when they take on Monta Ellis and the Golden State Warriors (15-22).