Sunday night the Lakers looked to bounce back in a big way and stop their six game skid. Last winning in 2012, the Lakers had dearly missed their three bigs in the past week. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were out for a tough stretch of games with a concussion and a torn labrum, respectively.
Earlier on Sunday, it was announced that Gasol will not play while Howard was a game-time decision. The Lakers came in sitting in eleventh place in the Western Conference and miles from the playoffs.
In the absence of Gasol, the Lakers started with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, and Dwight Howard. The Lakers came out with energy as some nice passing led to free throws by Earl Clark. Luck seemed to be going the Laker way early, as good defense led to a World Peace miss that Dwight Howard accidentally tipped in.
Defensively, the Lakers started off with Kobe guarding Kyrie Irving. Soon Earl Clark made a three of his own to give the Lakers an early seven point lead. Dwight Howard and Kobe got the Lakers off to a quick 15-4 start before Kyrie Irving burned them on a three. The lead quickly dwindled to three off of lazy Laker play. Both Antawn Jamison and former Laker Luke Walton checked into the game as the first substitutes with five minutes to go.
The Lakers quickly dissected and dismantled the NBA’s worst defensive team and took a 37-20 lead into the second quarter. The most notable feature contributing to the Laker offensive success was ball movement, something notoriously lacking this season.
The Lakers looked to keep the energy level high in the second quarter to extend their 17 point lead. The Lakers had Chris Duhon, Darius Morris, Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison and Robert Sacre on the floor. For the first few minutes the Lakers traded baskets and misses with the Cavs, as this offensive unit shared the ball. By the time Dwight Howard returned with 8 minutes to go, his three point play put the Lakers up by 19.
The Cavaliers were struggling mightily from the floor. The only source of offense from the Cavaliers was found in Kyrie Irving, who was forced to put on spectacular moves to score. Overall, the Lakers were having great success by moving the ball and find good looks for the bigs inside.
The Cavaliers soon went on a run of their own and had the nineteen point Laker lead down to eleven. The Lakers had committed multiple consecutive turnovers and allowed several Cavalier fastbreaks. Six straight Laker turnovers gave Cleveland momentum late before Nash found Howard for an alley oop dunk plus a foul.
The Lakers finished this sloppy quarter leading 57-45.
The Lakers looked to continue moving the ball and playing with energy while avoiding the sloppy play that plagued them towards the end of the half. The Lakers came out with sloppy play on offense and defense but were aided by the carelessness of the Cavaliers. The Laker lead was quickly back up to 14 after several Cleveland mistakes. The unselfishness of Kobe and Steve Nash gave many players such as Dwight Howard easy dunks.
The only offense from the Cleveland side stemmed from the play of point guard Kyrie Irving. A three pointer by World Peace was followed by as steal from the forward to help the Lakers go up by 20.
After Cleveland battled back within 14, Dwight Howard responded with an athletic three point play. As the quarter progressed, the Cavaliers kept the deficit hovering at 14 points before the speed of Dion Waiters had the deficit down to 12.
The Lakers ended the quarter with several threes and entered the final quarter with a 17 point cushion as they led 86-69.
The Lakers entered the final quarter looking to close out what had so far been a solid night. After showing why the Cavaliers are the worst defensive and offensive team in the NBA, the Lake Show just had to maintain their lead.
Early into the quarter the Lakers traded threes with Cleveland before a thunderous dunk from Earl Clark. The Lakers continued to play with energy and the lead was soon at 18. Another outside jumper from Earl Clark had the Lakers up by 20 and had fans wondering just how good he could be. As the quarter progressed, the Cavaliers showed no potential for a comeback as they missed shots at every opportunity.
Eventually, the Lakers breezed to an easy win. The final score was 113-93.