Before the game, I wrote the following in reference to the Cavs:
They’re last in both offensive and defensive efficiency, have struggled through countless injuries, suffered a record breaking 26 game losing streak, and have even inspired a website dedicated to answering whether they won last night. All around bad times for the Cavs…My sympathies to Coach Scott, the Cleveland fans, and the players that are undoubtedly trying but just not good enough to compete with most teams for a full 48 minutes each night.
And then this about tonight’s game:
The Cavs are the worst team in the league and it’s not close. But they will play hard and the fact that the Lakers humilated them in their last match up will surely be on the minds of the home team. If the Lakers think they’re just going walk in and the Cavs forfeit, they’ll be mistaken.
Simply put, the Cavs may be having a miserable year, but they had every intention of having the Lakers join them in their misery. And tonight they did just that by handing them a 104-99 loss, their 3rd straight to end the 7 game road trip. As it stands, we have a new leader in the clubhouse when it comes to the worst loss of the year.
I’m going to keep this short and bitter.
The Lakers got outworked by a team hell bent on revenge. The Cavs played hard, they played smart, and they took advantage of every opening the Lakers gave them. And since the Lakers were in such a giving mood and so generous in playing a poor game by forcing passes, not rotating well on defense, and not hustling the Cavs hung around, then built a lead, and then held on for the win. When a team doesn’t play smart and doesn’t do the little things, they often lose. Even to bad teams. The Lakers learned that first hand tonight and will now have to think about this loss through the All-Star break and into early next week. Hopefully it sinks in that playing this way isn’t nearly enough to be good team.
The only bright spots in the entire game came on the offensive side of the ball. Pau Gasol did his part on O by pouring in 30 points on 15 shots (and making all 14 of his FT’s), grabbing 20 rebounds (10 offensive), and dishing 3 assists. When he got the ball in position to score he attacked and made the most of his limited opportunities. Fisher deserves praise too. He hit 8 of his 12 shots from the field and paired with Pau in the 2nd half to keep the Lakers within striking distance. And the last Laker to have a good game on O was Shannon Brown. Like Fisher, he shot the ball well (7-14, 15 points) and even after taking a nasty spill when absorbing a hard foul, he bounced back, made his FT’s and played hard the rest of the way. All three of these guys deserve credit for playing hard and, for the most part, smart on offense the entire night.
But in the end, even a 30-20 line from Gasol, one of Fisher’s best shooting nights, and Shannon having a good road game wasn’t enough. Not with Kobe jacking up jumpers (8-24 FG’s, 0 FTA’s) on the wing and committing a turnover nearly every time he drove the ball (7 TO’s on the night). Or Bynum needing 12 shots (making 2) to score his 6 points while only grabbing 6 rebounds on top of that. Or Odom not having his typical impact on the glass or in scoring the ball (though he did dish 6 assists). And certainly not with Ron apparently so out of this game mentally that Phil decided to only play him 18 minutes on the night, including only 5 in the 2nd half (and none in the 4th).
Overall, just a terrible game from this team. And really, I’m just angry and disappointed about it. It doesn’t shake my long term belief that this team can contend. Nor does it make me reconsider the constitution of the this group. But losses like this do sting. And instead of going into this break with a bit of a good feeling and completing the road trip with a victory, we’re stuck with this game on our minds and what can only be thought of as a wasted road trip (even with the W in Boston). Hopefully, this loss resonates some and we see a re-commited group next week.