The (8-4) Los Angeles Lakers put their 4-game winning streak on the line tonight against the (5-5) Cleveland Cavaliers. The Lakers got their first road win of the season in overtime in Utah, behind another 40-point performance by Kobe Bryant and their big three coming through in the clutch.
Los Angeles native and former Pepperdine standout Mychel Thompson returns to Los Angeles as a Cleveland Cavalier. The Lakers split the two-game season series with the Cavaliers last year, after losing the 2009-2010 season series. In the last 10 meeting’s the Lakers have a 3-7 record against the Cavaliers.
The good news is the Lakers are 9-3 all-time against the Cavaliers at the Staples Center. In the interest of keeping, the good news coming Cavaliers head coach and former Laker, Byron Scott, will be back home in front of Laker Nation. It has been 15 years since the L.A. native donned the purple and gold.
Before the much-ballyhooed event, spoken of as ‘the decision’, Cavaliers vs. Lakers was once a marquee NBA match-up now these teams are like “ships that pass in the night” in short moving in different directions. Fortunately, for the Lakers and the rest of the association Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was asleep at the wheel and chose not to see the entire draft picture clearly.
The Cavaliers possessed the first and fourth overall picks in the 2011 NBA Draft and the ability to select two franchise players, chose not to read the draft board correctly and selected PG Kyrie Irving and PF/SF Tristan Thompson. Both could turn out to be solid pro players. However, if the decision was to acquire a versatile front line player and a point guard to lead the offense.
Reading the draft board correctly the Cavaliers would have recognized that the Timberwolves (second pick) and Jazz (third pick) were not after a point guard. Knowing this information a better choice would have been SF/PF Derrick Williams with the first pick and PG Kyrie Irving with the fourth. This shrewd move could have netted Cleveland the player they coveted as well as arguably the best player in the draft.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers to an impressive 101-90 win over the Suns. In his 10th game as a pro facing Steve Nash, Irving scored a season-high 26 points on 11-17 shooting. Irving took over the game for a five-minute stretch of the second quarter posting 12 points utilizing a wide array of shots.
As a young player, Irving appears to be a polished scorer showing a good level of maturity. Despite being very early into his professional career, Kyrie Irving looks like a future NBA all-star. Irving, like every other rookie, is having trouble adjusting to superior athleticism.
The last time the Lakers faced the Cavaliers on 1/11/11 at the Staples Center, L.A. held Cleveland to a franchise record in points allowed in the 112-57 win. The 55-point margin of victory is the third largest in franchise history. The 57 points allowed a year ago, are the fewest by a Lakers opponent in the shot clock era. The 2011-2012 version of the Cavaliers are a different much more competitive team than the one the Lakers crushed.
In 28 games (starting 25), Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.3, his lowest career scoring average against any NBA opponent. Kobe did drop 47 on the Cavaliers on 1/30/2001 in Cleveland. Kobe has dropped 40 points on his last two opponents and nobody would be surprised if that the number will rise to three by 10:00 pm PST.
The Cavaliers are a young team that wants to get out in transition and score easy baskets. The Lakers have to play solid defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of Kyrie Irving, control the tempo, limit the Cavaliers to one shot per possession and quickly rotate out of open shooters.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Cavaliers: K. Irving, A. Parker, O. Casspi, A. Jamison, A. Varajao
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FS West (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
- Cleveland: FS Ohio (Fred McLeod & Austin Carr)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Cleveland: WTAM 1100 AM (Bill Wills & Mike Snyder)
- Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
- Kobe Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
- Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Shoulder) Probable
- Josh McRoberts (Sprained Left Thumb & Left Big Toe) Doubtful
- Troy Murphy (Gastroenteritis) Out
- Steve Blake (Bruised Rib) Day-to-Day