LOS ANGELES – In Mike Brown’s first trip back to Staples Center as a head coach, his Cleveland Cavaliers squeezed by the Los Angeles Lakers handing them their fifth straight defeat in a 120-118 loss on Tuesday.
It was another disastrous third quarter that once again put the Lakers in a hole as they allowed Cleveland to go on a 17-4 to begin the quarter behind hot shooting from Luol Deng’s 9 of his 27 points for the game on three consecutive 3-pointers that gave Cleveland a 75-67 advantage. Los Angeles closed the gap to within two point after a hook shot by Jordan Hill as part of an 8-0 run.
The Cavaliers maintained their lead throughout the remainder of the quarter and took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the teams traded baskets back and the Lakers grabbed a 4-point lead after a 3-pointer by Kendall Marshall at 100-96. Cleveland responded once again with 12-0 run to take a eight-point lead. After struggling for most of the game with foul trouble, Dion Waiters heated up in the fourth quarter scoring 13 of his 17 points for the game.
The Lakers got to within three points in the final minute of the game, but were unable to tie game on 3-pointer by Nick Young.
“It felt good,” Young said on his missed potential game-typing 3-pointer. “There’s nothing to say. I wish I could take it again, and I’ll take it again. I just wish it went in.”
Although it was a tight game, head coach Mike D’Antoni felt the game was lost on the boards as they were outrebounded by the Cavaliers 48-35.
“In big moments when the game could of turned we just didn’t rebound and that hurt us tonight,” D’Antoni said. “We got to give them credit they made 13-of-17 from 3’s and to overcome that we had to control the boards and we didn’t do it.”
Along with the rebounding advantage, the Cavaliers shot 77 percent from 3-point range on 13-0f-17 shooting that included Deng going 5-for-5 from beyond the arc.
“They made some tough shots,” Pau Gasol said, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds. “It’s not like our energy wasn’t there, or our focus wasn’t there, we just started sloppy like most other times. Tonight they just hit some tough [shots]. They made a run, and we hung in there which is a good thing, but unfortunately we couldn’t close it out.
There were some positive things to take away from the loss as the Lakers scored a season-high 40 points in the second quarter behind a combined 34 points with Jodie Meeks (13 points), Young (11), and Wesley Johnson (10) accounting for 34 of the points on 77 percent shooting as a team for the quarter that gave the Lakers a 63-57 half time lead.
It was a very productive night offensively with Young and Meeks setting season highs in points with 28 and 26 a piece. Marshall had his third career double-double with 10 points and 16 assists.
“I thought offensively we took care of the ball,” D’Antoni said. “Jodie played extremely well and Nick played a great game. We moved the ball (as we had) 30-something assists. There was a lot of good stuff and we got to build on it. Again, guys got to keep their heads up and keep battling. We (just) got to keep getting better. Hopefully we can build on this and stay positive.”
The Lakers will now embark on a seven-game road trip as that includes tough road games in Miami, Chicago and Boston. So with that said, Young is hoping the team can stay focused and get some much needed wins.
“We have to somehow get a win,” Young said. ” That’s all there is about it. We have to stay with it, don’t give up. It’s too early in the season to give up, and just go into the gym and lay an egg every night. We still have to play with pride, go out there, and compete. We have to do it for the fans.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Gasol was a game-time decision due to a moderate sprain of the tendon in his big toe on his left foot.
The 33-year-old was able to play through the pain and have a productive game as he scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds in 36 minutes played. It was his fifth 20-plus point output in the last seven games.
“(It was) a little sore, but I felt good enough to be out there,” Gasol said. ” I wanted to be out there with my boys, and I think I did OK.”
D’Antoni was impressed by Gasol’s high level of play on Tuesday despite the injury to his left foot.
“I sure he felt it a little bit,” D’Antoni. “His performance was good enough to think that there wasn’t too much pain.”
The Lakers will need Gasol to continue to play well as the team has an injury plagued roster and a seven game road trip that could potentially put a huge damper on the team’s playoff hopes if they struggle.
Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill, AP
Bob Garcia IV
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