Monthly Archive for January, 2013

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Lakers Need “Common Experiences”

Despite a major disadvantage in turnovers (20-6), a rough shooting night from Kobe Bryant (8 for 25) and constantly varying rotations of late (Pau Gasol had just returned as a sub), the Lakers found themselves tied at 90 with the defending champion Miami Heat with 2:33 to play.

Then Dwyane Wade made a pull-up jumper, Dwight Howard missed two free throws and Ray Allen got a lofted jumper to fall over Howard’s outstretched hands to make it 94-90 with 1:30 to play.

The Lakers struggled to create good looks on the other end, with Steve Nash throwing up a desperation scoop shot around Wade and Metta World Peace throwing up a contested corner three, both near the end of the shot clock. Miami converted for a third straight trip when LeBron hit his 17th field goal in 25 attempts (39 points), then added an and-1 in the final seconds to cap a game-ending 9-0 run.

It was a reminder for the Lakers that while they’ve made progress, they have a ways to go.

“We looked a little bit like a team that was new to the situation,” said Nash. “We weren’t smooth and we couldn’t get a rhythm and I thought we could have made a lot more money out of a lot of situations over the course of the night that we will down the road, but tonight I think we showed our lack of common experiences.”

That’s the key phrase for this Lakers team: common experiences.

This season, L.A.’s top four players have been on the floor for only nine of 39 games. Nash has missed 24 (and a half), Pau Gasol 13 and Howard three (not to mention Steve Blake’s 32 or Jordan Hill being out for the season). Making things more difficult was the in-season coaching change, as the Lakers are still figuring out how to run Mike D’Antoni’s offense amidst constantly changing rotations due to the injuries.

The kind of defensive intensity the Lakers have shown for three straight games now was enough for blow out victories over Cleveland and Milwaukee, but the lack of offensive cohesion caught up with them against Miami’s swarming ball pressure.

“I thought maybe we were a little tentative, also they play at a speed defensively, they try to speed you up a little bit and maybe we weren’t used to it,” explained Nash. “I thought we were maybe just out-thinking ourselves instead of just playing and had a bad run there to start the game. I thought we grew a little bit but we have a lot of growing to do.”

Indeed, instead of knowing where to be once Miami blitzed Nash pick and rolls above the three-point line, the Lakers at times stood around. Instead of trusting where one another would move, they too often waited to find out, and turnovers were too often a result.

Miami’s top three players no longer have those questions, nor do those of teams like Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Since the talent is in place, that’s the type of cohesion the Lakers hope they can find as the clock ticks on a season that’s almost halfway completed.

The Lakers have 15 games before the All-Star break to work towards that goal, and 10 of them will come on the road, starting with a three-game trip to Toronto, Chicago and Memphis.

Stay tuned.

Lakers – Heat Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 99-90 loss against Miami:

68
Paint points for Miami, with LeBron James recording 30 of his game-high 39 points inside. The first 14 Heat points came way via dunk or lay-up, in large part because of the Lakers miscues on the offensive end of the floor during that opening frame. Despite owning a size advantage down low, L.A. was a minus 40 in the paint (68-28).

66
Points combined for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, as they totaled 28 for 45 from the floor (62.2 percent). The rest of Miami was just 12 for 38 (31.6 percent) towards 33 points.

24
Minutes for Pau Gasol in his return to the lineup after missing a week-and-a-half because of a concussion. The Spaniard finished with 12 points, four assists and four rebounds off the bench.

20
Turnovers for the Lakers, 16 of them coming in the first half, allowing Miami to get out in transition (21 fastbreak points). In the first quarter alone, L.A. had eight miscues – four of them coming in the opening minutes. “I thought maybe we were a little tentative,” Nash said. “Also, they play at a speed defensively, they try to speed you up a little bit and maybe we weren’t used to it. I thought we were maybe just out-thinking ourselves instead of just playing, and had a bad run there to start the game.”

9
Straight points for the Heat to close the game, after Kobe Bryant knotted it at 90 apiece on a 3-pointer with 2:32 left. In that span, the Lakers missed two free throws (Dwight Howard) and three shots. “We looked a little bit like a team that was new to the situation,” Nash acknowledged. “We weren’t smooth and we couldn’t get a rhythm.”

2
Three-pointers for Miami, a team that had come into the game making nearly nine per contest and converting at a 39 percent clip. They finished 2 for 13 (15.4 percent), well below their season averages, but both triples came in the decisive fourth quarter.

Lakers 90, Heat 99: Jan. 17 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday night contest against Miami, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Heat: M. Chalmers, D. Wade, L. James, C. Bosh, U. Haslem

FIRST QUARTER
4:29: It was all breakaway dunks from the Heat in the opening minutes, LeBron and Wade doing what they do so well in transition off four careless giveaways from the Lakers. Yet the Heat couldn’t hit anything else, missing all eight of its shots, as the Lakers took the lead when Nash pulled up for his second jumper to make it 13-12 for the home team.

0:00 The Lakers adjusted pretty well after the early Miami barrage, but ended up going down 26-22 after conceding the final four points of the quarter on LeBron’s dunk (12 points, two assists) and two Shane Battier free throws after an ill-advised Chris Duhon foul. L.A. had success running their offense through Gasol – who came off the bench in his first action after five games missed to a concussion – with the second unit, as he hit a pick and pop jumper, drew two foul shots (both makes) and found Metta World Peace for a three-pointer on the three possessions in which he was featured. Certainly a bonus to have the NBA’s most skilled big man with the second unit, which L.A. may try to showcase even when the Spaniard returns to the starting line up.

SECOND QUARTER
9:07 Gasol continued to find success on offense, converting a lefty hook from the left block to reach a team-high eight points, but had less success on defense, the Heat continuing to score at the rim to the tune of 26 paint points.

1:02 After making four straight free throws, Howard missed two during a terrific defensive stretch for the Lakers on the other end, as the Heat fell below 40 percent from the field despite the 16 Lakers turnovers that led to a bunch of transition dunks. World Peace drained his second triple of the half off Nash’s third assist to piggy-back on Howard’s and-1 at the rim, giving L.A. a two-point edge. Miami did start the half as they opened it – a LeBron dunk – but the Lakers went into the tunnel up 45-44, somehow, despite 16 (!) turnovers leading to 19 Heat points.

THIRD QUARTER
6:10 Miami’s defensive strategy was basically to swarm Nash at the top of the key early and force him to give the ball up. And without Gasol in with the starters, L.A. wasn’t making good choices after Nash gave it up, the Heat taking advantage to push to as much as a seven-point lead after LeBron’s and-1 at the rim. L.A. did get three pointers from Clark (his second) and Jamison with good ball movement that cut the margin to 62-58.

0:00 LeBron murdered the Lakers out of high screen/rolls with Joel Anthony picks the second Howard went out, getting to the bucket for three finishes late in the quarter that gave Miami an eight-point lead after three. Gasol simply didn’t have the legs to go up and contest at the rim, and LeBron was a ridiculous 12 of 12 finishing in the paint (1 for 8 outside of it). Meanwhile, Kobe was only 3 for 16, and the turnover count was 19 for L.A. to just six for the Heat. Ouch.

FOURTH QUARTER
5:27 Bryant heated up at the right time for the Lakers, nailing four of his next six shots to briefly put the Lakers up two at 83-81, before Wade got a tough one to fall in the paint that gave us a new ball game with half the fourth left. Re-entering the fray was Nash, who had six minutes to rest, Gasol staying in with Howard, MWP and Kobe. What a fun one in Los Angeles.

2:25 The first Ray Allen field goal in six attempts was a three-pointer, and he added a layup moments later off a Bosh feed to put the Heat up 90-86, countering the first triple from Nash. Howard hit 1 of 2 free throws on the next trip (5 of 11 in the game) and Bryant drained a pull-up three to tie the game at 90.

0:00 But from that point on, it was literally all Miami. The visitors scored the final nine points, getting a 13-foot jumper from Wade (27 points), a fading jumper from Allen (three straight makes after an 0 for 5 start), a LeBron pull-up and finally an James and-1 in the final seconds (39 points on a ridiculous 17 of 25 field goals). The Lakers hung tough all game despite the James assault, and a 20-6 difference in turnovers, against the defending champs. L.A. clearly isn’t there yet from an execution standpoint with their stars out of sync for much of the game, but has played with the right amount of intensity for three straight games, something to build on moving forward. Up next: Toronto on Sunday. See you from Canada, folks.

Jan. 16 Injury Update: Gasol and Blake

The Lakers are getting closer to being at full strength for the first time this season.

After an abbreviated practice session on Wednesday, Pau Gasol (concussion) and Steve Blake (abdomen/groin) took part in a 3-on-3 scrimmage, with Gasol a possibility to return as soon as Thursday against Miami, and Blake out for at least a while longer.

Gasol has missed the team’s last five games since suffering the concussion against Denver on Jan. 6, but has improved in the past few days and passed some of the NBA-mandated concussion tests. He’ll still need to be cleared by Dr. Williams on Thursday prior to the game, but at this point the Spaniard is optimistic.

“I feel better – a lot better, actually,” he said. “I feel 100 percent now. Got a good workout in today and everything felt good. Tomorrow will be a go.”

In his mind, at least, as we’ll remind again that he’ll need final approval from the doctor. Regardless, it’s been a difficult week and change for Gasol, battling his first concussion.

“It’s been a learning experience,” he said. “The struggling of getting up every day and not getting better, constant headaches, being bothered by light or noise and not knowing what the next day will be like or not knowing when you’ll be healthy. You do a little research about concussions and it’s an unfortunate hit, but those can happen any day or any game. If you get concussed the second time, it’s a lot more dangerous.”

He initially failed certain tests, such as card games to see how one’s mind reacts, but finally passed them and thus was able to resume some basketball activity today.

If Gasol does return against the defending NBA champs, that will move Earl Clark to the bench, where his energy and versatility can be a big bonus for the Lakers. Clark actually missed Wednesday’s practice with gastroenteritis, so his status is “questionable” for Thursday.

Otherwise, Blake is the only player on the roster that will still be expected to be out for a few games as he sees how far he can push his abdominal/groin area, and if he can play through the current discomfort he’s feeling.

“Am I going to benefit the team by not playing at 100 percent?, he asked. “If the answer is yes, then I’ll do what I can do play through it. If I can’t, then I’ll sit out.”

It hasn’t been an easy process for the feisty point guard, who hasn’t played since Nov. 11.

“It’s frustrating when you think you’re going to heal and be totally OK, and then take care of one thing, and it just magnifies another issue that I was having,” said Blake. “It’s part of the game, things you have to deal with your body, things are all kind of connected and they go together. You have to deal with it and do what you can.”

Just as the Lakers have throughout an injury-plagued season out of which they’re hoping takes a turn for the positive.

Lakers – Bucks Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 104-88 win against Milwaukee:

79.3
Percent shooting from the floor for Dwight Howard in two games since his return. The big man finished with 31 points (14 for 18) and 16 rebounds, to go along with four blocks. “He keeps getting better,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Obviously he’s what we were missing, when he was out. You know he’s a heck of a presence inside.”

35.8
Percent shooting for Milwaukee, including a 14 for 45 effort in the second half (31.1 percent). Bryant guarded Brandon Jennings, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, for much of the game, limiting the Bucks’ guard to 4 of 14 shooting and 12 points. “He sets the tone defensively,” D’Antoni said. “When you have a guy hawking the ball like that and disrupting their offense and the energy he puts out on the defensive end and then to go down and do what he does offensively… He helps our defense so much.”

30
Assists on 42 made field goals for the Lakers, the second straight game with at least that number. Steve Nash had a game-high 11 assists, while Bryant notched six in back-to-back home contests.

21
Offensive rebounds for the Bucks, leading to 24 second-chance points. This also allowed Milwaukee to have a plus-8 in the rebounding department.

15
Points in the fourth quarter for Milwaukee, the Lakers holding the Bucks to 6 of 24 shooting (25 percent). “It starts on the defensive end,” Kobe Bryant said. “We did a much better job tonight being physical and making our presence felt and that’s where we have to hang our hats.”

Lakers 104, Bucks 88: Jan. 15 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday night contest against Milwaukee, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Bucks: B. Jennings, M. Ellis, L. Mbah a Moute, E. Ilyasova, L. Sanders

FIRST QUARTER
9:16 An excellent start for the Lakers, focused on both ends, was felt on the scoreboard with a 14-4 burst forcing a Bucks time out. Metta World Peace drained two triples, and Dwight Howard converted two Bryant assists plus two free throws to lead the way. Some interesting matchups were in play, with Bryant defending Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, and Earl Clark on Monta Ellis, leaving Steve Nash for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Fight quickness with length, being the idea.

0:00 The starters continued to play excellent ball, pushing the lead to as many as 12, but with Bryant, Nash and Howard getting some early rest, the Bucks closed the quarter on a 16-4 run to cut the lead to only two at quarter’s end (29-27).

SECOND QUARTER
5:05 Howard continued to excel on offense thanks to pretty feeds from Bryant and Nash (six assists apiece, many to him, with his sixth field goal in seven attempts. Bryant followed with a breakaway dunk off Jamison’s steal to put the Lakers up 45-44, after they’d fallen behind by three when Mike Dunleavy hit his second triple. L.A. was largely in control, but the Bucks had climbed back in against the LAL bench, and then balanced out the starters by attacking the offensive glass (nine offensive boards for 11 second chance points).

0:00 Bryant closed a masterful first half with a quick scoring run, draining three jumpers to add 16 points to his six assists, after he focused on getting Howard going early. The Lakers closed the quarter on an 8-2 run, with Bryant spurring ‘em on, after the Bucks had stayed close through the middle period of the period.

THIRD QUARTER
9:50 L.A.’s starters continued to outplay those of Milwaukee (whose bench had gotten ‘em back in it), with Bryant, Howard and Nash combining to push the lead back to double digits when Kobe’s steal got World Peace loose for a transition layup. Howard already had 21 points, finishing off Nash’s 10th assist, and the 22nd assist on 24 field goals, a very impressive total since L.A. averages only 22 assists for an entire game on the season.

0:40.0 Dunleavy committed an ill-advised foul far away from the rim to give Kobe two bonus free throws, and after Mbah a Moute got a jumper to go on the other end, Kobe answered with a pull-up jumper to put the Lakers up 79-73 heading into the fourth quarter.

FOURTH QUARTER
9:40 With Howard and World Peace joining Morris, Duhon and Jamison, L.A. started the fourth in style. Duhon nailed a three off a nice MWP assist, then fed Howard for one dunk and watched as Howard man-handled rookie John Henson on the next trip down to allow an 88-75 lead.

0:00 Bryant capped a terrific game with a long three-pointer to reach 31 points on 12 of 19 field goals, plus his six dimes and constant effort defending Brandon Jennings, who finished just 4 of 14 from the field for 12 points and only one assist. Howard wasn’t bad himself, notching 31 points with 16 boards, while Nash had 11 of the team’s 30 assists, the second straight game over 30 (32 vs. Cleveland). The final scoreline: 104-88 for the home team. That’s two straight blow out wins to snap a 6-game losing streak, with a big test coming up on Thursday against an annoyed Miami Heat team who’s struggled on their Western Conference road trip. We’ll see you there.

Injury Update: Steve Blake

Lakers backup point guard Steve Blake was originally diagnosed with an abdominal strain on Nov. 12. He said he first injured the muscle against Detroit on Nov. 4, but re-aggravated it on Nov. 11 against Sacramento.

During this period, Blake developed complications to his abductor, located closer to the groin muscle, according to team doctor Steve Lombardo. He received a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection, yet continued to have symptoms. At that time, surgery was recommended by Dr. Craig Smith.

He underwent surgery on Dec. 5 to repair the torn abdominal muscle and was expected to be out approximately 6-8 weeks.

“It’s not a typical basketball injury,” Lombardo said. “Shaq (O’Neal) had a minor variant of it, but we had him better over a six-week period. Most players will get better with conservative measures. In my tenure with the team, this is my first time a player needed surgery.”

After surgery and during rehab, Blake still experienced more pain along the abductor, and received another PRP injection on Friday, Jan. 11.

“It hasn’t responded well to that yet,” Blake said after practice on Wednesday. “But the doctors said it’d take a week or two to kick in. I’m hoping that’ll work.”

Lombardo maintains the original tear along the rectus abdominus (abs) that Blake has “symptomatically improved” from it. The other muscle, the abductor, is where Blake is experiencing complications.

The training staff will continue to monitor Blake and his progress. If he does not improve, Lombardo said Blake will see Smith, and Dr. Bill Brown, a hernia specialist, to assess whether anything else needs to be done.

“My initial injury was a small tear on my lower abdominal muscle,” Blake explained. “When you have a sports hernia like that, the abductor muscle in your groins work with the abdominal muscles, so I fixed the one area and didn’t realize I was in that much pain for the other problem, until I fixed the other one. It was unfortunate.”

Monday Practice Roundup

Here’s a practice roundup from Monday’s session in advance of the Lakers next game on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. vs. Milwaukee.

Eazy Earl
A rash of injuries to the Lakers frontcourt has opened up playing time for Earl Clark, who acknowledged he goes by the nickname “Eazy,” which might describe how naturally he plays basketball, if not the impressive intensity he’s showcased of late.

The Louisville product responded to his shot with a team-high nine rebounds at Houston, and then a breakout 22-point, and 13-rebound career game in L.A.’s 108-105 loss at San Antonio. In two starts since that game, Clark has averaged 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 blocks.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of work and to finally see it pay off feels good,” Clark said. “In professional sports, guys go down and get injured, and you have to try and step up and fill their shoes. I’m just trying to do the best I can and help us get some wins.”

But more than his contributions on the offensive end, coach Mike D’Antoni praised Clark’s efforts on the defensive end of the floor. In the last week, he’s matched up with point guards Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, as well as forwards Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan.

“He’s a guy that’s extremely versatile,” D’Antoni said. “He can guard twos, threes, fours and even switch to a five. He’s been doing a terrific job. We’re extremely happy where he is right now and hopefully he’ll keep progressing. His energy and length on defense – his body is just alive – is giving us a jolt.”

Defense Steps Up
After conceding nearly 112 points during their six-game skid, the Lakers limited the Cavaliers to 93 points on 41.1 percent from the floor.

D’Antoni credited the team’s improved play on that end, particularly certain individual performances.

“They were connected defensively,” D’Antoni said. “Then you can take individual efforts like Kobe (Bryant) on (Kyrie) Irving – his energy on the ball got them out of their patterns, and Steve (Nash) fighting guys off the boards and sacrificing his game to what’s better for the Lakers. The rest of the guys sprouted energy and we played hard.”

The team’s defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions), with Earl Clark alongside Dwight Howard, in L.A.’s win against Cleveland, was 88.1 in 25 minutes. Post practice, Howard stated Clark’s difference on the defensive end.

“One thing that Earl (Clark) helps with is his energy,” Howard said. “I know he’s going to be behind me or I know he’s going to get up and guard his man to do whatever he can to stop him from scoring. That makes it a lot easier for the other guys when you have two guys back protecting the paint and playing with energy.”

Injury Update
Howard practiced and suffered no setbacks in his first game back in three games he missed with a tear of the labrum in his right shoulder. The big man posted 22 points and 14 rebounds in L.A.’s 113-93 victory.

“It felt good,” he acknowledged. “I was happy to be back on the floor, and happy we got a win.”

Asked if he suffered from any pain in his shoulder, Howard simply nodded no.

On the other hand, forward Pau Gasol will not play on Tuesday vs. Milwaukee, his fifth straight game missed because of a concussion suffered on Jan. 6 against Denver.

“We’re being extra cautious to make sure he’s OK,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.

He will continue to be re-evaluated on a daily basis. The Lakers are 4-8 without the 7-foot Spaniard in the lineup.

Guard Steve Blake, who has been out a little more than two months after undergoing abdominal surgery in mid-November, is participating in shooting drills.

“There is no timetable or anything,” D’Antoni said. “He’s still a little better, but still no timetable.”

Lakers – Cavs Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 113-93 win against Cleveland, snapping their six-game skid:

95
Shots for the Cavaliers, a plus-26 for the visitors, in large part because of 17 offensive rebounds and 22 Laker turnovers. But the Lakers defense was much more active despite that many more opportunities.

41.1
Percent shooting from the floor for the Cavaliers, including 4 of 21 from the 3-point line. During the Lakers losing streak, opponents had converted at a 49 percent clip from the floor, and nearly 40 percent from distance.

32
Assists on 40 made field goals for the Lakers, Steve Nash leading the way with nine dimes. Chris Duhon chipped in with seven off the bench and Kobe Bryant finished with six.

30
Minutes for Dwight Howard in his return from a three-game absence because of a shoulder injury. The big man totaled 22 points and 14 rebounds and his activity on both ends of the floor was evident throughout the game.

13
Three-pointers made for the Lakers, out of 25 attempts (52 percent). In the last six home games, they had shot just 26.3 percent from deep.

0
Fourth-quarter minutes for Kobe Bryant, a rare occurrence, in which the Lakers led end-to-end, and by as many as 30 at one point. Bryant finished with 23 points and six assists on 9 of 14 from the floor in 28 minutes of play.

Lakers 113, Cavs 93: Jan. 13 Running Diary

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:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Cavs: K. Irving, C. Miles, A. Gee, T. Thompson, T. Zeller

FIRST QUARTER
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).

SECOND QUARTER
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.

THIRD QUARTER
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.

FOURTH QUARTER
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.