This really wasn’t an NBA game as much as it was some sort of glorified exhibition/feeding to the wolves ala the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals. The Lakers completely dominated the Cavs 112-57, handing out a the type of beat down rarely seen at this level of professional basketball. To put this game in perspective, the Lakers set a new franchise record for fewest points allowed (the previous low was 66) and won the game by their 2nd largest margin ever (2nd to a 57 point win*).
Getting too deep into this bloodbath isn’t even necessary. Before the game we spoke about the quality of the Cavs and how the injuries they’re dealing with have left them even more shorthanded than normal. All we asked was for the Lakers to come out playing hard and with focus in order to put this team away early. Mission accomplished. They outscored the Cavs 27-12 in the first frame and just continued to build on their lead from there.
The Lakers controlled the game every which way imaginable. Every starter scored in double figures, every player that got in the game had a positive plus/minus, and save for Joe Smith’s goose egg in the scoring column every Laker put the ball in the basket at least once. The Lakers made half of their three point attempts (10-20) and had 52 points in the paint (compared to 28 for the Cavs).
Defensively, the Lakers were just as dominant holding the Cavs to 29.9% shooting and an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 64. The Cavs had 19 turnovers to only 12 assists while only making 23 shots from the field. When you look at their players’ plus/minus you see a -57 for Manny Harris, a -46 for Jamison, and a -43 for Mo Williams. Those numbers are astounding. The math in this game is like nothing I’ve ever seen in an NBA boxscore.
Really, after a while it was a bit sad to see how bad the Cavs were being trounced. Kobe said after the game that he didn’t feel bad for the Cavs (but that he “felt bad for Byron”), but as a fan of the game (and not just the Lakers) I can honestly say that this game reminded me of a one sided boxing match where you wish the referee would just stop the fight because one guy was getting his head caved in. Unfortunately the Cavs were at the mercy of the game clock and just had to continue to take their beating until the final buzzer with no hope of anyone throwing in the towel for them. Meanwhile the Lakers just kept providing highlight after highlight, be it an off the backboard dunk from Kobe to Bynum or a half-court buzzer beater by Shannon at the end of the third quarter. It was just one of those nights for the Cavs.
The Lakers now have a 5 game win streak and have put together dominant back to back performances. You can say that tonight was pre-determined based off the quality of opponent and I would agree to a point. But in a normal game, when you’re much better than an opponent, a 20 point win is what’s expected. Tonight the Lakers won by 55 and never let the Cavs recover or even sniff an opportunity in the game. When Phil Jackson said that his team has been “pretty focussed lately” this is what can result. Tomorrow, the Lakers see if they can carry over some of this game into a match up with the Warriors. Here’s hoping they can.