Cavaliers revenge game?
All five starters scored in double figures and the Cleveland Cavaliers held onto defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 101-95, on Sunday night at Staples Center.
The Lakers scored the first basket of the game, and took an early 2-0 lead, but that would be the only time Los Angeles was ahead in the contest.
Local news from across Southern California
Cleveland jumped out to an early 28-13 lead, before the Lakers cut the lead to eight by the end of the quarter.
"I can't explain it," said Lakers' point guard Lonzo Ball about the team's early struggles. "We're losing games, so I don't know why the energy isn't there, but we can't keep getting in holes like that."
Los Angeles would get within three points late in the fourth quarter, but Alec Burks sank three free throws to seal the victory, only their ninth of the season, for the Cavaliers.
"We were able to close out," said Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew. "One of our problems has been we've been doing things in spurts. I thought we got off to a great start tonight and we hit a couple bumps in the road, but for the most part we were able to sustain and were able to close it out."
Both teams struggled from the field with the Lakers shooting 39 percent and the Cavaliers shooting 42 percent.
"That's a frustrating loss," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "We have to make shots. We have to make free throws. As a team we have to step up and go out and take some of these games."
The Lakers were 16-for-27 from the free throw line for a paltry 59 percent.
Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart were a combined 5-for-23 from beyond-the-arc and the Lakers were an atrocious 7-for-34 from three in the game.
"I played like [expletive] today," said Kuzma following the loss. "No matter if a team comes in here with one of the worst records, they're still an NBA team, and we can't take them lightly. You can lose on any given night if you don't bring the effort, and that's what happened tonight."
The Cavaliers own the NBA's worst record at 9-35, and are decimated by injuries this season, but the victory snapped the team's 12-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Lakers fall to 3-7 without LeBron James.
Brandon Ingram had 22 points and seven rebounds. Ball, Kuzma and Ingram combined for 64 points.
"We had some open looks from the three-point line, from the mid-range, and of course we missed a lot of free throws tonight," said Ingram, stating the obvious. "That could have closed the gap a little bit, and I was part of that also. We just have to have a hit-first mentality, and be ready for every team's best when they come to Staples Center."
Cedi Osman led the Cavaliers with 20 points. Rodney Hood had 18 points, rookie Collin Sexton chipped in 17.
"Over the last month and a half I've changed my playing style a little bit," said Osman of his scoring surge. "Instead of focusing on shooting, I started playing more flashing and going towards the rim. When I'm aggressive like that, they try to help from the side and then I can make the play for my teammates."
Sexton admired his team's fight, despite their recent losing streak: "We just fought until the end and we never gave up. We never hung out heads down when we were making turnovers or mistakes. We kept playing through it and we played together tonight."
In front of his girlfriend Khloe Kardashian, Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 14rebounds. Burks had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
The loss was inexcusable for an incosistent Lakers team that is trying to compete for a playoff spot in the crowded and competitive western conference. The loss drops the Lakers out of the playoff picture and into ninth place.
"We're the ninth seed now," said Ball of the Lakers current seeding. "We want to turn it around as fast as possible."
James was drafted by Cleveland first overall in the 2003 NBA Draft and played from 2003 to 2010 with the Cavaliers before joining the Miami Heat.
James rejoined his hometown team in 2014 and played with the Cavaliers until 2017. He won an NBA title with Cleveland in 2016.
Notes and Next
LeBron James (groin) missed his 10th consecutive game, the longest absence of his career. Rajon Rondo (finger) also missed the game.
The Lakers will host the Chicago Bulls who only have 10 wins on the season on Tuesday night at Staples Center.