Leading into Sunday afternoon’s showdown between the Eastern Conference leading Cavs and Western Conference leading Lakers, Cleveland’s 23-0 mark at Quicken Loans Arena had been talked about more than A-Rod and ‘roids or David Beckham and Italy.
Well … That conversation’s over.
Three days after L.A.’s biggest win of the season – a 110-109 OT victory in Boston – the Lakers completed a season-sweep of the East’s other beast on Cleveland’s previously untarnished floor to complete a tremendous 6-0 road trip despite losing center Andrew Bynum in the journey’s second game.
The Lakers did the deed with a complete team effort, made even more necessary than usual since Kobe Bryant was vomiting all over the place at halftime due to flu-like symptons.
Leading the charge was Lamar Odom, who played inspired basketball in his best performance most can remember in totaling season-highs in points (28) and rebounds (17), including seven on the offensive glass. More importantly, 15 and 10 of those points and glass cleans came in the crucial third quarter, which the Lakers entered trailing by 10 but emerged from leading by five.
Pau Gasol played at least 40 minutes for the fourth straight game and offered 18 points, 12 boards and six assists while Bryant managed 19 points in 34 gutty minutes. In fact, Kobe seemed to be saving his energy for defense, spending most of the game on LeBron James (with some help from Trevor Ariza) to force LBJ into 5-of-20 shooting and only 16 points.
That complete team effort before alluded to was what assistant coach Jim Cleamons said L.A. needed in order to bust Cleveland’s perfect home record, and all 10 Lakers that saw the floor found a way to boost the squad that’s a league-best 41-9. Cleveland had been the only other team in the league without 10 losses.
Let’s see some numbers:
Turnovers by the Lakers, who (insert Captain Obvious) took great care of the basketball.
Offensive rebounds for Lamar Odom. The Lakers also got three on that end of the glass from Pau Gasol and one each from Luke Walton and Josh Powell, though Cleveland did get 15 of its own.
Threes nailed by the Cavs at halftime to take a 61-51 lead. Nearly every other statistical category was equal, including assists, personal fouls, steals and turnovers. Mo Williams was 3-of-4 and Wally Szczerbiak 3-of-3. Meanwhile, L.A. was 1-of-6.
15 and 10
Odom’s respective points and boards totals in the third quarter alone in by far his best performance of the season. Odom had five offensive boards in the period, and finished the game with season highs in points (28) and rebounds (17).
Three-point percentage by the Lakers, who hit just 3-of-20, including 2-of-14 in the second half. The Cavs shot 47.8 percent from distance (11-for-23).
Second half points for Cleveland after they scored 61 in the first half.
Points in the paint by the Lakers in the game, which completely dwarfed Cleveland’s 24 points down low. The Cavs stayed in the game by making 11 threes to L.A.’s three.