Skip to content

Kyrie Irving is back and sends Lakers to new low, new loss

Dec 11, 2012, 11:34 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard is fouled by Cleveland Cavaliers Tyler Zeller during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game  in Cleveland Reuters

If you’re a Lakers fan you have to believe that at some point they reach rock bottom and start to bounce back. It’s just that they hadn’t reached it yet.

The Lakers offense took a vacation and their defense had no answer Kyrie Irving and the result of all that is the Lakers falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-94. The Lakers have dropped four of their last five and are now 9-13 on the season (this was Cleveland’s fifth win).

While there was a lot of talk about the Lakers defense — specifically how Kyrie Irving carved them up in his first game back from injury for 28 points (on 21 shots) and 11 assists — that actually wasn’t the biggest problem for a change. It wasn’t good, but it has been worse. The Lakers held the Cavaliers to 44 percent shooting as a team and just 98.6 points per 100 possessions. While the Cavs put up 100 points they weren’t efficient.

The Lakers offense was just worse.

It comes back to a matter of identity — the Lakers offense looks nothing like a Mike D’Antoni offense. Early in the game the Lakers played without tempo and spacing. They lived in the half court in the first half and most of their offense was a direct post up — throw the ball into Dwight Howard in the post and stand at the arc and watch him work (and shoot if he kicks it out). There was almost no movement off the ball.

And the Lakers big men were not getting the job done — Howard, Jordan Hill and Metta World Peace combined to shoot 9-of-27 on the night. (Howard did end with 19 points.)

What we saw from the Lakers as a whole was not ball movement and player movement, it was flashback to 1990s isolation basketball.

Which means it all fell to Kobe Bryant and he did what he could — 42 points on 16-of-28 shooting, he continues to be efficient — but it is simply not enough.

Then there was the issue of turnovers — the Lakers finished with 18 turnovers, or 19.7 percent of their possessions. Nearly one in five times down the court, the Lakers didn’t get a shot off.

Compared to that, the Cavaliers offense looked good. Of course, the Lakers defense helped with that.

Irving was back and showing his speed and ball handling, splitting double teams and getting to the rim faster than the sad Lakers rotations could cover. He carved the Lakers up all night off the pick-and-roll or in isolation. Just before the end of the first half the Lakers sent two guys to trap full court and Irving just blew past Kobe and Darius Morris, out-running them both even though Irving was dribbling. He was more athletic than the Lakers, and he was finding guys who were open for shots.

Guys like C.J. Miles — someone shooting 28.3 percent from three coming into the game (and just 32.7 percent for his career) but when he gets to set his feet and take his time he hit 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.

That was a theme much of the night, with Cavaliers shooters getting good looks. If the Lakers do that Thursday night against the hot-shooting Knicks it will get ugly fast.

This was a close game until midway through the second quarter when the Cavaliers went on a 14-2 run and took an 11-point lead. The Lakers defensive communication and help was again poor, but this was as much an offensive dead patch for the Lakers as a defensive one. And when Kobe or another Laker tried to respond, Irving had an answer.

The Lakers were never quite out of it, they got the game down to four points in the fourth quarter, but they could never fully recover from the second quarter lapse. They also never had an answer for Irving, who the Cavs missed desperately.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Heat want to take long look at young guards before trading Mario Chalmers

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Mario Chalmers AP

    Can Johnson take on the backup point guard role if Chalmers was moved?

  2. Gov. Scott Walker defends $250 million Milwaukee arena deal as “fiscally responsible”

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Scott Walker AP

    “You’re talking about being a fiscally responsible person, I am. That’s precisely why I did this.” —Scott Walker

  3. Hornets’ coach says rookie Frank Kaminsky needs to add strength

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    He may start at the four for Charlotte this year.

  4. Anthony Davis “definitely” plans on shooting more threes this season

    Aug 29, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    If he develops a consistent three-point shot, it’s over.

  5. You can own Michael Jordan’s original uniform from Space Jam

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    space jam

    Owning this may be better than seeing Space Jam 2 with Lebron James, if that project comes together.

  6. Jim Buss defends Byron Scott as Lakers coach, “He has the Laker blood in him”

    Aug 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    He’s a coach, a brother.” — Lakers’ co-owner Jim Buss on Byron Scott

  7. Friday night video fun: Best hustle plays of 2014-15 season

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

    It’s not a coincidence you see stars like Chris Paul, LeBron James, Tim Duncan and Russell Westbrook in a highlight package like this.

  8. Kenneth Faried excited to see what Emmanuel Mudiay will do in Denver

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp Getty Images

    It is going to be a rough year in Denver as they give the keys to the offense to a rookie point guard.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2474)
  2. K. Irving (1961)
  3. L. James (1814)
  4. K. Bryant (1702)
  5. A. Davis (1642)