Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton and Kyle Kuzma warned against overlooking the Cleveland Cavaliers, who entered Sunday night on a 12-game losing streak. Yet that was exactly what the Lakers did, trailing by as many as 15 points in a 101-95 loss, arguably their worst of the season.
The Cavs quickly jumped ahead and stretched it to a double-digit lead behind hot shooting. As the Lakers struggled from the floor, Cleveland made 12 of their first 17 shots, including 4-of-6 behind the arc.
The Lakers played with improved energy in the second quarter, with Lonzo Ball serving as the engine. Kyle Kuzma also shook off a slow start by making four consecutive shots in the period, helping cut the Cavaliers’ lead to five points by halftime.
But just as soon as the Lakers were beginning to find their footing, they allowed a 10-0 run to start the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ shooting woes carried into the second half.
Several players missed wide-open 3-pointers and free throws remained an issue. Michael Beasley converting a three-point play and put-back layup on the ensuing possession did keep the Lakers within striking distance a few minutes into the fourth quarter.
Three straight baskets by Kuzma cut the Cavaliers’ lead to five points. Kuzma’s desperation 3-pointer pulled the Lakers to within three of the Cavs, but they converted free throws to avoid losing their lead.
Jordan Clarkson struggled in his second game back at Staples Center since being traded, but all five Cavaliers starters scored in double figures.
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