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Lakers snap six-game losing streak with blowout win over Cavaliers

Jan 14, 2013, 1:19 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard AP

Mike D’Antoni has a long way to go before his stint as Lakers head coach will be viewed as anything close to a success. But he picked his motivational spot wisely, calling Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers essentially a must-win, and a starting point for L.A. to begin to get its miserable season back on track and pointed in the right direction.

For a single night, against a substandard opponent, the Lakers responded to the challenge. They came out focused and aggressive from the very start, and used a 37-point first quarter as a launching pad for an easy 113-93 victory, the team’s first since Dec. 28 to snap a six-game losing streak.

D’Antoni’s message to his team after Friday night’s loss to the Thunder was simple.

“I told the team, the biggest thing is our season starts Sunday,” he said. “We’ve got to make a run. We’ve got one shot at it, and everybody needs to get ready mentally and physically.”

The team was as focused mentally as we’ve seen in weeks, but physically wasn’t all the way there just yet. Pau Gasol missed his fourth straight game, still not medically cleared to return after suffering a concussion a week ago against Denver.

Dwight Howard was back, however, after missing the last three games with a shoulder injury. His presence was felt immediately, as he piled up 10 points and five rebounds in just over eight minutes of action in the first quarter, against a Cavaliers team missing the injured Anderson Varejao and having no one else on its roster remotely capable of slowing him. He ended up finishing with a dominant 22 points and 14 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant had 12 of his 23 points in the opening frame to go along with five assists, and he and Howard combined to go 8-of-11 from the field in that first quarter, while the Lakers defensively held their opponent to just over 36 percent shooting.

L.A. finished the night shooting 58 percent as a team, including hitting 13 of its 25 attempts from three-point distance, while holding Cleveland to just over 41 percent.

The thing that was most impressive about the Lakers performance on this night wasn’t necessarily the win over a far less-talented opponent. It was the way they came out from the opening tip and took care of business with an efficiency and effectiveness we’ve seen only in flashes that was the difference. The offense was executed with purpose, the ball moved fluidly to find the open man, and all five players on the floor were active and engaged defensively.

It doesn’t seem so impossible on a night like this one when it all comes together.

The Lakers lead didn’t dip below double digits the entire second half, and reached as many as 30 late in the fourth quarter when the Cavaliers had relented and the final period turned into nothing more than extended garbage time.

No one in L.A. is going to mistake this Cleveland team, now with a record of just 9-30 on the season, with one of the league’s elite. Their only threat to score in bunches comes from Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, and the latter is more of a volume shooter than an efficient scorer at this early stage of his career.

But D’Antoni was right when he said that the turnaround has to start sometime, and to the Lakers credit, at least for a single night, they finally stepped up and responded to the challenge.

  1. pricejustin24 - Jan 14, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    1-0

    • dannymac17 - Jan 14, 2013 at 2:33 AM

      16-21

    • andyhr17 - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:34 AM

      If as a Lakers fan you’re pumped about winning against the Cavs it really does show how the mighty have fallen.

      • teambringitstrong - Jan 14, 2013 at 6:49 AM

        No one said anything about being proud, so keep exposing your insignificant your life is by admitting your hatred for the successful.

      • andyhr17 - Jan 14, 2013 at 7:13 AM

        ….huh?

      • thraiderskin - Jan 14, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        Yeah, I’m not impressed, If the Laker’s get back to .500, I’ll start considering about being happy. Right now, if feels like a “blind squirrel finds a nut.”

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Lakers are like that Yankees, Royalties of their sport.
      Don’t forget it!

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:16 AM

        this is the smartest thing posted here,if I do say so myself.

      • andyhr17 - Jan 14, 2013 at 11:10 AM

        This is the equivalent of posting something on Facebook and being the only person who “likes” it.

  2. badintent - Jan 14, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    The only runs the Lakers will have is after eating at Taco Bell
    Too bad they have to play the Clippers with no frontline until Howard comes back.Small ball only goes so far , so long.

  3. tiennguyen645 - Jan 14, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    LAKER only beat the worst team in NBA

    • lmoneyfresh - Jan 14, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      Hey! 2nd worst. Get it right.

  4. pricejustin24 - Jan 14, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    Every great journey begins with a single step

  5. 32magicman - Jan 14, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Hopefully Kobe is starting to realise that Dwight needs to see a lot more of the ball on offense. If they can get him going he will draw double teams and create open looks. Then Kobe wont have to shoot fadeaway jumpers falling out of bounds with defenders all over him……..but he still will

  6. yankeepunk3000 - Jan 14, 2013 at 3:26 AM

    lmao oh come on…is this really a STATEMENT by the lakers lol they beat the Cavs who aren’t even healthy and are 9-30! they should walk all over these guys….yea seasons over laker fans…let’s get of this fantasy of a comeback…they will miss the playoffs its really sad…but funny haha

  7. jnoah13 - Jan 14, 2013 at 3:58 AM

    Let me make something clear. I am not inherently a laker hater. And i get LA is the second largest market in the country, and the lakers are one of the most successful franchises in NBA history. I get it. But when I have to see yet another article about the lakers, almost every single day on here, it drains on me. They’re not a good team, despite all of their stars. They can’t defend, and they will continue to be a .500 or less team because good teams can keep pace with their offense while also defending their slow ‘run and gun’ d’antoni offense. I don’t want to hear anything about the lakers again unless they somehow start winning consistently. This is the only basketball website I can access at work, which is sad because I don’t learn anything about basketball from this website. That new daily article, The Extra Pass, is a good start. But why don’t we see articles about the clippers, or the warriors, or ANY other team that’s actually doing something this year? the clippers are in LA too, that should count right? The lakers are not the only team in the nba, and every win or loss does not have to be covered. You barely see any articles about games from teams like the rockets, bucks, or any other 7-8 seed hopeful in the nba. Stop it. Please, stop it. signed, jnoah13.

    tl,dr: SHUT UP.

  8. jnoah13 - Jan 14, 2013 at 4:01 AM

    one other thing: what kind of offensive minded coach does not believe in post play? Some of the most efficient shots are guys backing down in the post getting layups and hooks, yet you don’t believe in it? so you believe in long 2′s, and running guys ragged so their defense is like a sieve? unbelievable. No wonder why he’s never won an nba championship as head coach, its impossible.

  9. dko83 - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:02 AM

    I’m tired of rooting against LA.. Wears me out. I hope they sneak in with that 8 seed.

    So I can watch the Thunder/Clippers dismantle them in 4 games.

  10. BigBeachBall - Jan 14, 2013 at 6:06 AM

    Missing the playoffs with this talent is illegal.

    • jhuck92 - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM

      I had a Lakers/Clippers and a Knicks/Nets series on my Christmas list, but it doesn’t look like a postseason battle for LA will happen.
      And by the way, what a reversal of fortune when we’re talking about the Clippers *sweeping* the Lakers! I mean, imagine if someone told Magic Johnson 20 years ago (God, I’m old) that his Lakers would most likely miss the playoffs with this kind of talent. And the Clippers could very well sweep them if they make it in.

  11. loungefly74 - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    “…hitting 13 of its 25 attempts from three-point distance…”
    along with defense, the trey ball needs a boost. glad to see they made some sink.

    i will take any win right now.

  12. paulhargis53 - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    teambring: English MF’er! Do you speak it?!

    This is a game the lakers should have won, nothing to see here.

  13. aboogy123456 - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Glad to see the Lakers come out with the focus and energy that they didn’t show the first time against the cavaliers, and they were able to do it for 4 quarters. I love how the laker haters here post right after they play the spurs and thunder that lakers have no chance to make the playoffs, “because they have to win 60% of the games”, or some bs like that. You guys will probably post on here today that this win was against a crappy cavaliers team, well guess what, there are a lot of crappy teams in the league, and if they play hard then lakers will make the playoffs. Next up, Milwaukee.

    • abchome - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Oh my, this win over Cavaliers counts only one! ONE!! The Lakers are still 16-21 or 11th in the West. They still have to win two third of remaining games to get a probable 8th seed. And they will play the top 5 teams in both conferences 17 times in their remaining schedule.

    • mrcuret - Jan 14, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      Yeap, and then it’s MIA, TOR, CHI, MEM, UTH, OKC, NORL, they’ll probably win 2 of those games, but it doesn’t matter, by the time they play the Hornets they’ll be officially out of the playoffs and you Lakers fans will finally be put out of your misery. Lol

  14. omniusprime - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Nice to finally see the Lakers come out with a purpose from the very beginning, can they keep that good habit up? Nice to have a win, but considering the lowly opponent it’s not much of a big deal. The Lakers have to play like this against the best teams and win those games.

    Dumbtoni got lucky one game, I’m waiting for the ten game win streak before I actually am impressed. About time the team played some defense and had good ball and player movement on offense. I see Jamison finally got some playing time.

    Go Lakers!!!

  15. magicbucs - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Lakers still suck. They needed to shoot 58% as a team and 13-25 from 3 to beat a 9 win injured cavs team. Those numbers won’t happen often against a .500 team or better. YES IM STILL HATING ON THE LAKERS AND ALWAYS WILL.

  16. paulhargis53 - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    aboogy: What you don’t get, or refuse to acknowledge is that there are 4-5 teams in FRONT of the lakers for the FINAL playoff spot. ALL of them need to play worse than they have so far for the lakers to make it.

    In case you hadn’t heard, the lakers are one of the crappy teams…..

    Milwaukee beats the Lakers easily.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      You’re right they have to make up some ground but we are still not even halfway through the season and they need to get past three teams to get the 8 seed in the playoffs. Portland, Minnesota, and Utah. I think the lakers are better than those teams and will be favored in their head to head matchups.

  17. abchome - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    This will be the start of a 20 games winning streak!!!

  18. 16x8equal49ers - Jan 14, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Talent had to come through at some point.

  19. elcapitanfiscal - Jan 14, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Kobe score 30 a game but allows like 40 points per game to be scored on him…he is lazy on rotations and doesn’t close out on shooters and does not do many of the little things on defense…He needs to do what Lebron did in Cleveland and get his terrible teammates involved even if it means taking less shots..Steve Nash is a terrible defender and Dwight is still playing hurt.

    I say the Lakers still make the playoffs, there really isn’t too much of a gap between them and the 8th seed. Not that it matters, they will get crushed by OKC or the Clippers. They have no bench and Nash

    No way Dwight stays there, I say the Mavs will go hard after him and have the best chance.

  20. cosanostra71 - Jan 14, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    They played real well! They aren’t mistaking the Cavs for an elite team this year, but all winning streaks have to start with one win. They need to take this game as what it is- just one game, but they also need to take the focus and energy they played with and keep it up! It’s going to be an uphill battle but I hope they can do it. Let’s go Lakers!

  21. azcards - Jan 14, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    BREAKING: Despite Lakers win, Suns still optimistic in lottery pick.

  22. jnoah13 - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    i wrote a long comment critizing the article selection, about including way too many lakers articles, from these fine pbt writers, and they hid it from view. there was no hate speech, only justified criticism. way to show your true colors, and way to write a crappy blog. i bet they hide this one as well.

  23. pricejustin24 - Jan 14, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    These “writers” are the posters…. Complete tools. Pretty funny though.

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