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We took a look at the Lakers – Cavs contest in Cleveland while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to avenge their Christmas Day loss.
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Cavs: Mo Williams (left shoulder), Leon Powe, Jamario Moon
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Cavs: Delonte West, Anthony Parker, LeBron James, J.J. Hickson, Shaquille O’Neal
10:02 Pau Gasol’s turnaround in the lane capped a 9-0 Lakers run to open the contest, beginning with consecutive Kobe Bryant jumpers (the second a three-pointer) and an Andrew Bynum dunk courtesy of Ron Artest’s offensive rebound and dish. Not a bad start.
7:03 Cleveland, which boasts a 15-3 home record and has won 13-of-14 at “The Q” (Quicken Loans Arena, mind you), responded to L.A.’s burst with a 10-2 run of their own to pull within a point. A little late on this note, but when LeBron throws the powder in the air, do you think he ever considers using Pixie Stix (just to benefit the fans and broadcasters)?
1:09 Bryant nailed his fifth shot in eight attempts in an aggressive first quarter that produced 12 points (two-of-two from three) and helped give the Lakers a 27-18 lead after the period. Gasol, Odom and Bynum did a terrific job on the glass, doubling up the Cavs 16-8 and not allowing a single offensive board (helped that Cleveland shot 35.3 percent to L.A.’s 52.2).
8:57 Kobe continued to impress with his offensive arsenal by nailing two more jumpers from the right wing to reach 7-of-10 for 16 points in pacing the Lakers to a 32-26 lead. He’d also switched over to guard LeBron James, with Artest getting a breather.
3:00 Had enough Kobe mentions yet? Well, if you score 25,000 points in your career on the first of two free throws, you can get your third straight running diary mention too.
0:04.8 James had a successful half in terms of getting to the rim, drawing the sixth Lakers foul on him personally to close the half with two of his eight makes in 10 attempts, bringing Cleveland within two points (46-44) when they had trailed by as many as 11 in the half. For point of reference: last season in the same building, the Lakers were down 10 points heading into the third.
8:39 The Lakers improved considerably defending LeBron early, encouraging him into successive deep two-point jumpers that both missed. Meanwhile, Gasol converted two field goals on pretty moves at the other end, two more shots than he took in the entire second quarter to put L.A. up six.
4:42 Anthony Parker’s second corner three of the quarter from Bruce Bowen’s spot gave Cleveland its first lead of the game at 60-59, as Bryant went cold at the other end, missing all but one of six attempts in the quarter.
1:30 Would that keep the Lakers from looking Kobe’s way? Of course not … he nailed back-to-back jumpers in traffic to tie the game at 65, en route to a game-high 27 points. However, James ended up hitting a jumper of his own in the final minute of the quarter to create a two-point edge for the home team heading into the fourth.
8:49 The second unit put in a solid few minutes to open the fourth, with Farmar-Brown-Odom-Walton-Bynum playing things basically even as Bryant and James got their respective rest on the pine. Bynum managed to avoid picking up a fifth foul, conceding two Shaq buckets but blocking his third attempt.
5:23 Odom, Brown and Farmar all nailed a three-pointer to keep the score level as Bryant continued to rest on the bench (or should we say, grow restless on the bench), but James hit for the first time in seven attempts from distance to give the Cavs an 83-80 lead heading into the home stretch.
24.1 Tough moment for Gasol, who missed both of his free throw attempts that would have tied the score at 89. He appeared to have been bumped on L.A.’s previous possession when he missed twice near the rim, but couldn’t get the call. James then missed the second of two ensuing free throws, but Anderson Varejao managed to draw a foul on the rebound, and sank both free throws to dagger the game and ensure a regular season sweep of the Lakers. Phil Jackson said after the game that he was expecting Varejao to be the one called for the foul having gone over the back, but it wasn’t to be.
In short, the Lakers didn’t shoot well (see below), and couldn’t convert down the stretch for the first time this season. L.A. will head straight to the airport in advance of a Friday night contest against the Knicks in New York City; until then, your numbers:
25,000 Point-mark hit by Kobe Bryant in his incredible career, which came on a free throw with 3:00 left in the second quarter. He became the youngest of 15 players to ever reach the mark, and finished with 31 points on 31 shots.
33 Wins for the Cavs, the league’s most. L.A.’s 10 losses remain the fewest in the NBA.
15 Offensive rebounds for the Lakers to just six from Cleveland, but the Lakers had more opportunities by shooting just 38.6 percent to Cleveland’s 47.9 percent.
9 Missed free throws for the Lakers, including two huge ones from Gasol with 23.4 left that would have tied the game at 89. Gasol was also a very uncharacteristic 5-of-14 from the field.
4 Fourth quarter threes hit by the Lakers, from four different players.