Lakers take plenty of deep hits in 120-118 loss to Cavaliers
It was almost too bad someone had to win it.
A pair of struggling teams barely played defense and produced plenty of unremarkable moments Tuesday night at Staples Center, the Lakers coming up with a few more of them during a 120-118 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
No real shock there.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol was the master of misfortune in the fourth quarter, throwing the ball directly to Cleveland’s Dion Waiters underneath the basket for a layup and later missing a pair of free throws.
The Lakers somehow had a chance to send the game into overtime after Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson made one of two free throws to give his team a 119-116 lead, but Nick Young’s 26-footer bounced off the rim with 9.9 seconds left and Thompson made another free throw to render Gasol’s game-ending layup meaningless.
It’s been that kind of season for the Lakers (14-24), who suffered a fifth consecutive loss and 11th defeat in 12 games.
It didn’t matter that Cleveland had lost nine of its previous 12 games, including a 44-point debacle against the Sacramento Kings. The Cavaliers made 13 of 17 three-point shots (76.5%) in Coach Mike Brown’s first game back at Staples Center since being fired as Lakers coach in November 2012. Luol Deng made all five of the three-pointers he took on the way to 27 points.
“Thirteen for 17 is good if nobody’s in the gym,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We rotated to guys a few times that we shouldn’t have and left the shooter open.”
D’Antoni seemed oddly upbeat afterward, pleased his team had committed only 12 turnovers after a spate of particularly bad games in that department and citing the production of Young and Jodie Meeks.
Young scored a season-high 28 points and Meeks rolled up season highs of 26 points and six three-pointers, which couldn’t produce a happy ending before the Lakers hit the road for a seven-game, 12-day trip starting Wednesday in Phoenix.
“We can’t just go out and lay an egg every night,” Young said. “We still have to play with pride.”
Gasol gutted out 20 points and 12 rebounds with a hyperextended left big toe suffered four days earlier against the Clippers, but the Lakers were outrebounded, 30-17, in the second half. And there was that unfortunate pass to Waiters.
“I thought I saw my teammate there,” Gasol said. “I was expecting somebody to come to the ball as I was falling to the ground. Unfortunately there was nobody … well, there was somebody there. It was just the opponent.”
Anderson Varejao had 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Cavaliers (14-24), who remain on the fringes of playoff contention because they reside in the dreadful Eastern Conference.
The Lakers scored a season-high 40 points in the second quarter against the Cavaliers’ defense, which was supposed to be Brown’s forte.
Then the third quarter started, rarely a good thing in recent weeks for the Lakers. Deng made a trio of three-pointers in the first 2 minutes 3 seconds and the Cavaliers outscored the Lakers, 31-22, in the quarter.
Brown, who guided the Lakers to the Western Conference semifinals in 2012 before being fired five games into the next season, largely produced indifference from fans in his return.
It wasn’t much different from when he actually coached the Lakers.
He did manage to exchange pleasantries with Lakers forward Jordan Hill in the hallway before the game and said he didn’t harbor any resentment about his fate with his former team.
“I have no ill feeling at all toward this place,” Brown said. “I enjoyed my time here.”
It was more of the same Tuesday.
Correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.
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