It’s their third game of this Eastern swing and the Lakers were overpowered late by the Cavs, 116-102. The Lakers fail to go to one game under .500.
What was noteworthy, though, was the Lakers lost Anthony Davis at 3:53 left in the first quarter. He was said to have flu-like symptoms. As of now, we don’t know if he’ll be available on Wednesday night against Toronto.
We expected a big man to dominate inside the paint in the first half but we didn’t think it would be the returning Jarrett Allen. Allen made his first 10 shots of the game and scored 22 points in the first two quarters. And then Donovan Mitchell took over the later part of the first half (actually, he took over the whole game; more on this in a bit) and scored 11 points in a 15-4 run before halftime. On the Lakers’ side, Thomas Bryant tried to do his best Anthony Davis impersonation by scoring 11 points to tie for the Laker lead in scoring in the first half. LeBron also had 11, by the way.
The Cavs did their darnedest to break the game open in the second half. Dennis Schröder kept the Lakers in with 7 quick points in the third. While Allen didn’t score much in the second half, he kept setting picks for his quick guards to get open. Mitchell continued to cook. But a 13-2 run by the Lakers put them back up front.
The two teams kept going back and forth. It was a lot of one-on-one play from the Lakers as they tried to bully their way inside like Davis did in the last 10 games. The contest was tied at 92 before the Lakers finally ran out of gas.
L.A. missed crucial three-pointers and turned the ball over at the worst times. Meanwhile, the Cavs had two separate 10-0 runs that closed the door on the Lakers. Mitchell scored 15 points in those runs. Of course, this would’ve been a closer game if Anthony Davis wasn’t ill but no one’s going to feel sorry for the Lakers.
We know about the Cavs’ bigs but, boy, did LeBron crash the boards. He had his highest number as a Laker with 17 rebounds. James also led the team in scoring with 21 points. Thomas Bryant admirably did his best with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schröder each had 16. The three-pointers weren’t falling, though; the Lakers had an ugly 6 for 36 (.167) performance from behind the arc. There was also too much one-on-one to my liking and, quite frankly, some of their passes looked lackadaisical. The Lakers ended with 16 turnovers.
As for the Cavs, Mitchell had a blockbuster night with 43 points. Darius Garland went for 21 points and 11 assists while Allen returned from a 5-game hiatus with a 24-point, 11-rebound performance. They definitely moved the ball more; 25 assists by Cavs compared to 16 for the Lakers. As a result, they got better shots. They weren’t much better from three (7 for 27, .259) but Cleveland shot better overall at .516.
As a fan, it’s too bad we missed out on a full Laker squad that had been rolling because of Anthony Davis’s dominance. We would’ve loved to see him do work against Allen and Evan Mobley. But teams only play the hands they’re dealt with and the Cavs took advantage of a Laker team that didn’t have Davis. Hopefully, he’s well enough on Wednesday to play.
Still, I liked that the Lakers had some fight in ’em until the end. Mitchell was obviously a handful and he’s one of the better scorers in the league today. Anyone would have a tough time stopping him. But I did like that L.A. didn’t just wilt when they lost their star big man. I didn’t like that they didn’t move the ball much in the second half but I like the courage of going face-to-face with the Cavs’ big men. But the Cavs are also the second best defensive team in the league for a reason.
Not much rest for the weary as the 10-13 Lakers go up North to face the 12-12 Toronto Raptors. Now it’s the Lakers’ turn to be the tired team on the road.