The Lakers continue to go on a downward spiral. They’ve lost four of their last five games; they just came off a loss against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Coming into their game against Cleveland, they were 9-12. Not exactly what we expected out of the Lakers a month into the season.
Once again, Pau Gasol was out for this game to continue resting his knees. And the team just received the news that Steve Nash would be out two more weeks due to nerve irritation on his leg. To make matters worse for the Lakers, Kyrie Irving made his return in this game after being out with a fractured finger.
And Coach Mike D’Antoni made yet another change: Jordan Hill was starting in place of Antawn Jamison, who was starting in place of Pau Gasol.
How did the Lakers do? Let’s check out the recap.
The Lakers were getting punished for leaving guys open on the perimeter. Kyrie Irving made a transition three. Anderson Varejao made a jumper. And C.J. Miles shot well early.
Since when did CJ Miles make three pointers?
— Louie Chen (@LOOOeee) December 12, 2012
And the Lakers didn’t take care of the ball early. They had eight turnovers in the first 12 minutes. Despite those costly turnovers that led to 15 Cavalier points, they shot very well (9-15 for .600). Kobe Bryant, in particular, got off to a very good start as he scored 12 points in the quarter. Dwight Howard also contributed this post move. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv4LrEXAfZw At the end of the first, the Cavs led the Lakers, 29-23. 2ND QUARTER The Cavs looked worse without Kyrie Irving on the floor but, unfortunately, the Lakers didn’t play much better. One of the big problems for the Lakers this season has been free throw shooting. Dwight Howard, of course, is one of the big culprits. He went 2-8 early (would finish 4-10 in the first half). Yikes.
Again, I’ll repeat myself: Dwight might as well start shooting his free throws granny style. Can’t get any worse.
— Zach Mentz (@ZachMentz) December 12, 2012
The Cavs then turned it up at the end of the second. They outran the Lakers and Kyrie Irving (again, this was his first game back) made a couple of ridiculous moves that pleased the home crowd. The Lakers’ shooting disappeared in the second quarter (5-20 for .250). This bad first half continued the recurring themes for the Lakers: bad defense, bad free throw shooting, bad at transition, bad at taking care of the ball, etc. The only good thing for the Lakers was that Kobe Bryant scored 16 points off 7-10 shooting but even he had four turnovers.
At the half, Cleveland led the Lakers, 54-39.
Both teams started out really sloppy. The Lakers went 1-10 and the Cavs went 1-12 early in the third. But there was a fun one-on-one duel between Kyrie Irving and Kobe Bryant. Kobe ended up blocking Kyrie’s jumper.
As an objective sequence you have to like this Kobe-Kyrie duel. Though Kyrie should probably not have initiated this duel.
— Alex D. (@DewNO) December 12, 2012
That woke up the Lakers a little bit as they went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead down to seven. Alonzo Gee’s three-pointer stopped the momentum for a little bit but L.A. kept grinding and continued to play better defense in the third quarter. A Kobe fadeaway was able to cut the lead down to three. However, Kyrie Irving made a huge three-pointer to halt the Laker stampede. After three quarters, the Cavs still led, 68-62. 4TH QUARTER Laker fans probably did this a lot.
Pray for the Lakers.
— Larry David (@longliveandross) December 12, 2012
The Cavs, of course, looked bad without Kyrie Irving on the court. The Lakers, after all the terrible play, were able to cut the Cavaliers lead down to 75-73.
Once Kyrie returned, though, he made his presence felt by making a three-point play. Lakers continued to play porous defense although, on the other end, Kobe was trying to keep them alive. He made a deep three-pointer that he took from Columbus. But Kyrie wouldn’t be denied as he countered Kobe’s three with a jumper of his own. It became a Kobe/Kyrie duel for a little bit. After Irving made a three-pointer, Metta World Peace got it back with a three of his own. Kyrie and Anderson Varejao, however, executed a perfect pick-and-roll to put the Cavs up six.
While that duel was fun between Bryant and Irving, the game was not fun for Laker fans.
The Cavaliers defeated the Lakers, 100-94.
POINTS: Kobe Bryant, 42.
REBOUNDS: Dwight Howard, 19.
ASSISTS: Dwight Howard, 3.
BLOCKS: Three players with one each.
STEALS: Six players with one each.