Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon road contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the final of a seven-game road trip, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Cavs: M. Williams, A. Parker, C. Eyenga, A. Jamison, J.J. Hickson
12:00 I asked Phil Jackson how important matching Cleveland’s energy would be, given how jacked up they’d be to avenge the 55-point embarrassment in L.A. on Jan. 11, and just to be playing the defending champs at home in front of a crowd looking for something to feel really good about. He said it wasn’t so much about energy, actually: “They are more athletic than we are as a basketball team, so it’s not about athleticism, it’s about how to control the game without having the athleticism of this youthful team they have. We just have to play with knowledge and ability to do what we have to do best, which is get the ball inside, don’t come down and take long shots and wait until offense happens, and (make) them do the things they have to do to stop our inside game, and then take advantage of it.”
6:37 The Cavs, naturally, expected the Lakers to try and pound it inside as Phil hoped, and early on were effective at stopping easy looks by flooding the paint and double-teaming both Bynum and Gasol. Halfway through the period, however, the Lakers’ patience paid off in back-to-back hoops for Gasol, tying the game at 11.
0:00 Kobe missed the final five minute and change after picking up his second personal foul, plus a technical for arguing to boot, and while the Lakers stuck to their game plan, a slew of uncharacteristic inside misses from Gasol (4-for-9) and Bynum (0-for-5) led to Cavs run outs (10 fast break points), and a 29-19 advantage after one. In fact, other than Gasol, the Lakers made only 2-of-15 shots in the period, the Spaniard accounting for 14 points and eight boards himself.
8:30 Gasol hadn’t stopped yet, climbing to 18 points with 10 rebounds while cutting Cleveland’s lead from what had been 10 points down to three at 34-31. He did much of his damage at the foul line, sinking all eight attempts.
3:02 When Gasol went out, the Lakers slipped once again, Bynum missing twice more to go to 0-for-7 in the game, Bryant missing two field goals to fall to 3-for-8 and Shannon Brown throwing a few bricks to fall to 1-for-5. Brown, in particular, had struggled considerably from the field in L.A.’s last three games, shooting a total of only 24 percent including his 3-for-11 at Orlando and 2-for-9 at Charlotte. The team was shooting 35.9 percent with nine turnovers, yet trailed by only one at 41-40.
0:00 The Cavs managed to add four points back onto that lead with an 8-0 run to close the half, all the points coming in the final 1:21 of the period off L.A.’s 11th T.O. and a few poor shots. The Lakers were their own worst enemies, allowing the Cavs 15 fast break points off plays like the ones that closed the half, and could have been happy enough to be down only five.
6:44 Well, whatever halftime adjustments the Lakers attempted to make did not render anything positive on the scoreboard, as even after Gasol made his 11th and 12th free throws (without a miss) of the game to reach 24 points with 14 rebounds, LAL still found themselves down by 10 points a minute later after a Christian Eyenga jumper and defensive three seconds free throw.
1:10 The Lakers got their spark from Shannon Brown, who overcame a tough fall directly on his hip to hit a free throw, then convert a steal into a layup that preceded a Bryant three that pulled L.A. — once down 12 — to within one. The Cavs did snap the run with a fierce baseline dunk from Christian Eyenga, enough to give them a 74-71 lead into the final quarter.
9:56 Bynum couldn’t have been having a much worse night, missing again in the lane to fall to just 1-for-11 from the field, and following up by drawing a technical foul by holding onto Hollins’ arm for too long after a personal foul. He did manage to respond with a two-handed and-1 dunk on the other end, however, missing the free throw with Cleveland up 77-75.
6:16 With Bynum, Odom and Bryant a combined 9-for-34 from the field, the Lakers were getting bailed out by not just Gasol (only two field goal attempts in the second half) but Derek Fisher, who hit a corner three to reach a season-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting, this one tying the game at 82. But moments later, Anthony Parker made consecutive jumpers, the second a three, to put Cleveland back up five.
1:46 It was Fisher again giving the Lakers a last gasp by hitting a corner three to bring L.A. within seven after Cleveland had gone up 12 moments earlier.
0:22.4 A crazy last few minutes continued as the Lakers cut Cleveland’s lead all the way down to two points, this time as Gasol followed Bryant’s miss with a layup to make it 99-97. The Spaniard was up to 30 points and 20 rebounds at that point in a ridiculous stat line. The Lakers, however, couldn’t complete the improbable comeback, as the Cavs made 10-of-12 free throws down the stretch to hold onto a 104-99 win. After a 4-0 start to the road trip, the Lakers lost for the third straight time heading into the All-Star break to fall to 38-19 on the season.
99 Consecutive games in which the Lakers had not lost by 20 points, snapped by Charlotte the game before. They trailed at most by 12 against the Cavaliers in this one.
50 Combined points (30) and rebounds (20) for Pau Gasol in a fantastic individual effort. He was the lone bright spot outside of Derek Fisher, who went for a season-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including three three-pointers.
19 Turnovers for the Lakers, resulting in 23 Cavs points.
14 Straight free throws made for Gasol without single miss, upping his free throw percentage on the season from 81.3 percent to 82.0 percent.
10 Combined points for Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, who both may have had their worst individual performances of the season. Bynum made 2-of-12 free field goals, and Odom 1-of-5.