Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening contest against Cleveland, the Lakers trying to snap a 6-game losing streak, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Cavs: K. Irving, C. Miles, A. Gee, T. Thompson, T. Zeller
7:45 The primary note as L.A. ran out to a 15-4 lead with good energy on both ends: Dwight Howard was all business in his return from a 3-game absence due to a shoulder injury. He wasn’t smiling after hoops, just focusing towards six points and three boards, all three field goals at the rim, to get the Lakers going the right way.
0:00 A terrific first quarter, certainly L.A.’s best in a few weeks, produced a 37-20 lead after 12 minutes, tanks to 13 of 20 shooting (13 of 20), and 10 assists along the way, with Kobe Bryant notching five and Steve Nash four. Bryant added 12 points by hitting his second three of the period in the waning moments, while Howard was well on his way towards a big game with 10 points and five rebounds in just eight minutes. Cleveland mustered only eight makes in 22 attempts (36.4 percent).
8:04 Howard’s good start continued, with an and-1 bucket at the rim, though credit a solid entry pass from Earl Clark, who played point guard growing up and dished the 14th Lakers assist in 17 field goals, the ball movement clearly very good.
1:57 Things got a bit ugly on offense, as five straight possessions all ended with turnovers, despite the presence of Nash, Howard and Kobe on the floor. That made for 12 total turnovers, even as the lead stayed in double digits at 52-41. Over-passing has been a problem at times, though poor execution of pick and rolls and extended isolation plays were also in issue.
0:00 Howard’s and-1 allowed a 12-point lead at the half, despite the absurd turnover spree (13 in the half, nine in the second quarter), with Bryant’s 6 of 8 shooting and five assists helping get ‘em there. Cleveland shot only 38.3 percent from the field, 20 points below L.A.’s 58.8 percent.
8:27 An 8-0 run put the Lakers back up by 20, with World Peace scoring the final six points in flashy fashion. First came a corner three, his first make in four attempts (he was just 1 for 9 from three vs. OKC) and second an and-1 in transition, when his dunk bounced off the rim, went 20 feet in the air and then finally fell through. Cleveland answered with a 6-0 run, but an alley-oop from Nash to Howard (22 and 11) cut that off.
0:00 The offense kept clicking in the third, L.A. winning the period 29-24, with Jamison adding five of his 13 bench points (three triples) and Howard reaching 22 points with 11 boards. The Cavs continued to struggle from the field, and despite capitalizing on L.A.’s 20 turnovers, couldn’t get closer than 86-69 after 36 minutes.
6:00 A top-of-the-key three from Nash put the Lakers up 99-76, this one very much over, the 6-game losing streak about to be a thing of the past. One notable: Clark had four blocks in addition to his 13 points and nine boards. Howard and Nash would join Kobe on the bench moments later, time to ice the knees. Bryant played only 28 minutes, Howard 30, and Nash 29, all good things for the Lakers.
0:00 Darius Morris got his scoring on off the pine, reaching 14 points in limited minutes, while Jamison added his fourth triple to reach 16 points of his own. The Lakers led by as many as 30, before some garbage time hoops from the Cavs cut the final margin to 20 at 113-93. L.A. tossed out 32 assists, one short of a season high, led by nine from Nash and seven from Chris Duhon in only 19 bench minutes. Cleveland also eeked past 40 percent from the field (41.1), but L.A.’s D was very good for most of the evening. The only rough stat: 22 turnovers. But, alas, the losing streak is over, as the Lakers await a pretty solid Milwaukee Bucks team on Tuesday. We’ll see you there.