Hello, rock bottom.
With one last home game before the grueling 7-game Grammy road trip, the Lakers had a chance to get a win against one of the worst teams in the NBA. Despite the vain hope of many (probably including the Lakers themselves), the team did exactly what they’ve been doing for months – starting the game with exception play, and then crashing and burning in the end. Unfortunately for this season’s Lakers, it’s a tale as old as time.
Nevermind that the Cleveland Cavaliers had only won three road games. Nevermind that they just lost in a 44-point blowout to the Sacramento Kings. No circumstance placed forth in their favor seems to help the Lakers do the one thing they’ve done so little of this season – win.
Today marked Game number 38 for both teams, and in a 120-118 loss, the Lakers and Cavaliers now have identical records, 14-24; 10 games below .500.
First Half – The Lakers’ performances this season, for the most part, can be analyzed into two sections – the first and second halves. They seem to play one half significantly better than the other, which proves difficult to win in the end. At halftime, the Lakers already had four players in double figures, led by Jodie Meeks’ 18 points. They had the same number of rebounds as Cleveland (18) and were moving the ball well with 20 assists on 23 made field goals. They even had 15 fast break points compared to the Cavs’ four. They led by as much as 11 points and had hit seven threes to Cleveland’s four. They even managed to get to the free throw line 13 times, converting 10. They shot 55% for a 63-point first half, 40 of which came in the second quarter alone. All they needed to do was maintain the same effort and focus in the second half. Unfortunately, they didn’t. More on that further down the report.
Jodie Meeks – All season long, Meeks has been the most consistent offensive contributor on the team. Tonight he finished with 26 points (a season high for him) on 9-14 from the field, including 6-10 from three. He also handed out four assists, grabbed three rebounds and in 41 minutes of playing time, didn’t have a single turnover.
Pau Gasol – Nursing a sore left foot after injuring it against the Clippers, Gasol was a game-time decision. It’s unfortunate that this game was lost because he chipped in 20 points on 9-13 from the field, 12 rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks. With a game tomorrow in Phoenix and the Lakers having lost tonight’s game, it’s difficult to look in hindsight and wonder if Gasol should have just sat out.
Nick Young – This young man does not shy away from responsibility, especially if it involves shooting his team out of a deficit. Young finished with a game-high 28 points, adding in six assists, which ties his career records in the mess
Kendall Marshall – Only 10 points for the former Tar Heel, but 16 assists?!
Second Half – The Lakers shot 50% while the Cavs shot just 42% and they STILL couldn’t win the game. Perhaps because they allowed Cleveland to shoot 9-10 from downtown, helping with the 63 points that they scored in the last two quarters to the Lakers’ 55. Luol Dent was a perfect 4-4 from behind the arc.
Free Throws – The Cavs attempted 24 from the charity stripe and converted 18. The Lakers shot just 10 free throws and could only make seven.
Rebounding – 30-17 rebound advantage for the Cavs. The Lakers allowed them 11 offensive rebounds, which helped with 15 second chance points for Cleveland.
I’d be lying if I said it was shocking that the Lakers lost to such a terrible team. They’ve lost to teams who are just as bad, if not worse, and don’t seem to have an answer for any opponent no matter what their record. The next two weeks away from Staples are built to further test, perhaps break, this team and how they respond will speak volumes about their will.