Lakers Fall Short Against Cavaliers in a Shootout

Rey Moralde —  December 17, 2016

The Lakers were on a back-to-back and they drew the reigning, defending NBA champions at the tail end. As expected, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Lakers, 119-108.

But the final score doesn’t tell the story of the whole game. In fact, this was one of the better performances they’ve had this season, even though they didn’t have starting point guard D’Angelo Russell (who had a sore knee and was rested by the team).

The Lakers got off to a great start as they led the Cavs, 31-23, in the first quarter. But the Cavs came roaring back as they scored 15 unanswered points. Kyrie Irving did his thing as he was weaving, scoring, and getting his teammates involved. But the Lakers didn’t let the Cavs break free. Julius Randle and Nick Young did everything they could to keep up with the champs. Jordan Clarkson, who finally had a great offensive game, beat the halftime buzzer with a lay-up and cut the deficit to three.

The three-point barrage continued from both teams. Nick Young was hot all game; he would end with 32 points and 8 shots from behind the arc. Kevin Love and J.R. Smith would do the damage for the Cavs from the outside. Later on, Clarkson and Luol Deng would join in on the act. It was your good old-fashioned shootout. We know how potent the Cavs offense was but we saw some excellent ball movement from the Lakers. L.A. was able to stay with Cleveland.

Until the end. Cleveland was hanging on to a three-point lead, 108-105, before the Lakers finally went cold. The champs took advantage and LeBron James made a three to give themselves a cushion with 2:30 left. The Lakers wouldn’t make a field goal for more than three minutes. Cleveland ended the game with an 11-3 run. Both teams combined for 31 three-pointers.

I don’t necessarily think this was a moral victory but I do think there was some growth today for this team. They’ve lost nine out of ten, sure, but the Lakers played an all-around good game in Cleveland. They were just overwhelmed and got beat by a better team. The Cavaliers are champions, after all. LeBron didn’t get off to a great start but he still finished with 26-7-9. Kyrie distributed early then got himself going offensively; he had 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 12 assists. Kevin Love, who seems to finally have it figured out in Cleveland, went for 27 points and 17 boards.

But the ball movement was crisp for the first time in weeks. They had 12 turnovers, which wasn’t bad. Nick Young, again, had eight three-pointers, which was a career-best. And he didn’t do so bad defensively, either. Julius Randle got off to a good start and ended with 16 points. Again, Clarkson had a good offensive game and scored 20 points (he didn’t pound the ball as much like dribbling was going out of style). We’re encouraged by Luol Deng. He scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Deng made some big shots to keep the team in it. And Brandon Ingram flirted with a triple-double (9 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists). He showed some leadership out there in the point guard position; you could see him directing traffic out there. It was good to see. Larry Nance, Jr. only had two points and five boards but playing in front of your dad must feel pretty awesome. Timofey Mozgov didn’t play a great game but he did receive his championship ring (he was mobbed by his former Cavs teammates before the game started).

If they keep playing like this in the future, they should win more often than not. When they get more experience playing together, cut the little mistakes, tighten up defensively, and consistently play well in four quarters, then the Lakers will be a team to watch. Hopefully, they do most of the same play in their next game, which is in Charlotte on Tuesday.

The Lakers will be fine if they continue to make progress like this. With the expectations tapered a bit, the wins would certainly be good but the playoffs, at this point, would be gravy.


Rey Moralde

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15 responses to Lakers Fall Short Against Cavaliers in a Shootout

  1. Nice write-up, Rey. 
    Tonight the Cavs had 44 rebounds, 30 assists, and only 8 turnovers.  But remarkably, the Lakers almost matched them:  41 rebounds, 30 assists, and 11 TOs.
    If the Lakers can find a way to approach this level of performance on a consistent basis, then inevitably they’ll start to win more games than they lose.  The assist to TO ratio is an especially important stat which all the good teams excel at.
    The Lakers performance really was outstanding tonight on a number of levels.  Despite the loss, let’s hope that they re-capture something of tonight’s magic.  If so, it could carry them a long ways into not only this season but future seasons as well.  The fact that they performed this well on the road on the 2nd game of a back-to-back against the reigning NBA champions while missing 2 key players is additional validation of their potential.
    I’m eager to see how they do Tuesday night against Charlotte.

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  2. Mid Wilshire

    Okay 1 key player we are getting a bit carried away with Tarik Black. He hustles I give him that but he has to otherwise he would not be in the league. Black in all likelihood will not be here next year but he might catch on somewhere else. However, if he can get some type of offensive game going he might hang on but he is really limited in terms of his skill set. We played well last night but let us be honest the Cavs I don’t think ever felt really threatened or doubted the outcome. It was like they turned it on when they had to and game over but they are the champs and that #23 guy is pretty good when he decides to play.

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  3. LordMo Mid Wilshire

    82games.com Five-man unit data suggest that Black is not the key to the bench unit. In small samples, the advantage has held with either Deng or Robinson out there with the other four. IMO,  the key is that while Clarkson and Williams are very marginal as starters, they are excellent as a backup backcourt. If you compare them to backup guards on even the top teams, they stack up well. Add that to three active guys up front, and they have been too much for other teams’ benches to handle.

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  4. Last year if someone told me that I’d be rooting for Nick Young, and glad to have him on the team,.. I would have laughed in their face,.. 
    But here I am in December 2016, proud that he’s a Laker.
    The same goes for Lou Williams,..

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  5. LordMo Mid Wilshire

    Black has a deal for 2/12, so he will probably be on the team next year. I thought the deal was a little excessive, but he is being used well by Walton and is better than borderline guys like Sacre and Kelly.

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  6. There is an interesting article in today’s Lps Angeles Times by Tania Ganguli, “Luke Walton encouraged by Lakers’ play in loss to Cavaliers, 119-108.”
    She mentions that after Monday’s loss to Sacramento, some of the players — namely, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, and D’Angelo Russell — were so disappointed in their play that they stayed in the gym after the game and practiced their shooting…until 3 AM.  Apparently, it has paid off as is evident in recent performances.  Here’s an excerpt from that article:

    “Near the start of this two-week trip, http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/jordan-clarkson-PESPT0016910-topic.html, D’Angelo Russell and http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/brandon-ingram-PESPTF00545-topic.html got away from all their distractions and retreated into the purity of the game they love. 
    “In a gym in Sacramento on Monday night, they shot basketballs until early the next morning after a loss to the http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/sacramento-kings-ORSPT000115-topic.html. Till 3 a.m., Clarkson guessed. 
    “Each player wanted more from himself. 
    “‘I think the fact that we weren’t hitting shots that we just all felt the need to just get in the gym,’ Ingram said. ‘It was good for me because I felt like I had a bad game; it was kind of something I did back home to get my mind right.’ 
    “The results were apparent on Saturday night in Cleveland, where the Lakers went toe-to-toe with the defending http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/nba-15008001-topic.html champions. Although they lost, 119-108, the Lakers stayed right with the http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/cleveland-cavaliers-ORSPT000001141-topic.html before falling short at the end. And their performance provided encouragement.
    “Nick Young led the Lakers with 32 points, making a career-high eight three-pointers. Clarkson found a shooting rhythm he’d been missing, making seven of 12 shots, including four three-pointers, to finish with 20 points. 
    “And Ingram, starting at  point guard for Russell, nearly became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. He finished with nine points, nine assists and 10 rebounds.
    “‘That’s the best and most confident he’s looked all season,’ Lakers Coach http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/luke-walton-PESPT008569-topic.html said of Ingram. ‘When he was playing point today, he was kind of controlling and demanding the offense. Getting people in position. Coming off looking not just to shoot every time. Reading how defenses were playing him. He was great on the glass tonight. He really helped out against a great rebounding team.’
    “The loss, in the second game of a back-to-back set, dropped the Lakers to 11-19, with the Cavaliers improving to 19-6, the best record in the Eastern Conference. 
    “http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/kevin-love-PESPT0000010823-topic.html had 27 points and 17 rebounds and http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/lebron-james-PESPT008359-topic.html scored 26 for Cleveland, which shot 51.7%.
    “‘We are finding out how hard it is to win a single game in this league,’ Walton said. ‘It’s hard. It takes a lot of effort and work. That team won a championship. That means they’re really good. So for us to come out and give ourselves a chance to win on their home court, be in the game, cut it to four at one point late there in the fourth, that’s a good effort for us. That’s growth from last game.’”

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  7. new rr  LordMo Mid Wilshire

    I do agree that he is better than Sacre and Kelly. And I would keep him if he was like the 12th guy on the roster. That means we have upgraded our Frontline which we truly need to do. Like I said if your going to keep Randle then you need a Defensive plus besides him but time will tell. i do believe Black’s 2nd year is not guaranteed so like I said he has to hustle and impress with that hustle. I give him credit for carving out a role for himself which is more than either Sacre or Kelly did and with more opportunity also.

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  8. Mid Wilshire

    The Cavs were amused and really were in control the whole time. When the Lakers did cut it to 4…LeBron hit the 3 game over. So, yeah a good confidence builder for the Lakers but let’s not get carried away it is not like the Cavs were sweating you could tell they could have put the Lakers away anytime they wanted. It was like having a good session with your sparring partner.

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  9. KevTheBold

    I agree @Kev. Now trade him while his value is high. He would be a great 6th man on a contender like the Cavs.  I want youth youth youth… like the wins but I want to create a dynasty that will “Rule Them All” … lol 🙂

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  10. LordMo 
    Lord, I’m beginning to think that you are a trader joe type,..Lol.
    If we were kids together, I would come over every Christmas and get all your best toys in trade for trinkets.

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  11. LordMo Mid Wilshire No one’s getting carried away here.  I’m not saying that the Lakers are ready to compete for a championship.  I don’t even think they’ll make the playoffs.  The assertion that Lebron is a great player (he is) and that the Cavs were toying with the Lakers (perhaps a bit of an over-statement) is beside the point. 
    The real point is that the seeds are being planted for a legitimate re-build.  Imagine if we didn’t have Ingram, Russell, Randle, and Clarkson.  Things would look pretty bleak, wouldn’t they?  And occasionally these young guys show flashes of what they can accomplish (such as racking up 30 assists vs. 11 TOs against the NBA champions).
    That’s the real point. As Luke Walton said, there’s “real growth from the last game.”  I trust Luke’s judgement.  The Lakers have a long way to go.  No doubt about it.  But I truly believe that they’re headed in the right direction.

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  12. DAR: I am a little concerned as he is missing time and not playing too well when he does – since the injury. I certainly do not want them to rush it  (like they did originally to cause the thing), but the fact that they are not means there is still twinges or tightness which is not good at his age.
    Lou/Nick:   They are playing well, but this is not what I want for the long term interest of the team.
    Luke:   Needs to play some catch up for COTY now.   He is a positive guy, so I would not read too much into his comments.   The team has lost 9 out of its last 10 games.  If you can be positive after a run like that – then you are a positive guy.
    Charlotte:   Important game to see if the recent “slight” uptick in performance is a trend.  They are a decent team – albeit an Eastern conf one.
    Ingram:   Nice game and he is my personal fav of the youngsters.
    Assist/Turnover:  Mid made a good point – as this was one of our best games in this regard. Ironically Russell did not play and this is a stat he is not doing well with.

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  13. new rr  LordMo Mid Wilshire
    I’ve wanted to see Zubac get some minutes with Black out.  Looking at the data though, I sometimes wonder if the Lakers should just forgo playing Mozgov and instead just play Robinson, Deng, and later Black at Center.

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  14. _ Robert _ 
    I’m concerned as well with regards to Russell,… he’s missing too much time.
    Not good for the team or his development.
    According the the injury report, he should suit up for tonight’s game however.

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