Advertisement

Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 109-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers

Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 109-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball drives past Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood during the first half Wednesday night in Cleveland. (Tony Dejak / Associated Press)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

The Lakers got home this morning around 3 a.m. and are headed to their respective Thanksgiving activities.

Advertisement

LeBron James is excited for his wife’s red velvet cake and macaroni and cheese. Josh Hart’s dad, a chef, is preparing turkey and ham. JaVale McGee, a vegan, will have some Tofurky. Lonzo Ball will go to his grandmother’s house with the entire family

Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 109-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

1) The game meant a lot to James, who spent the day doing Cleveland things. He and his teammates ate a postgame meal from his favorite burger place in Akron — Swenson’s. He got a nap in his Cleveland-area home. Lakers coach Luke Walton said he couldn’t quite tell based on James’ demeanor how much this meant to him, because he is generally so professional. But other Lakers could see what it meant to James. “At the end of the day it’s a regular-season game, but obviously it’s going to mean a little more just because of everything he’s done for the city,” Ball said. “This is his home. We wanted to come home and get a win for him.”

2) Speaking of Ball, had James’ homecoming not been such a big deal, Ball’s game would have been talked up even more. It might have been his best effort of the season. “It was one of my favorite parts of our game ... how much he was attacking the rim,” Walton said. “Even the ones he didn’t finish, I didn’t care. Just seeing him get downhill and be physical and play-make, he’s so gifted with that, to see him taking that next step was really a positive for us.” After scoring two points total in the previous two games, Ball knew he had to be more aggressive on Wednesday and acted accordingly. “The faster the game is, I usually play better like that,” said Ball, who finished with 15 points on seven-of-11 shooting from the field, seven rebounds and six assists. “That’s what they were telling me. I get the ball, just push it, try to outrun everybody.”

3) The game showed the growth of not just Ball but also Kyle Kuzma. Both Ball and Kuzma were a significant part of the Lakers' operation last year when they played the Cavaliers; it was the first time they played against James, a guy they both idolized growing up. "Little more nervous last year," Kuzma said, "because it [was] the first time playing against him." Wednesday night's game "honestly just felt like a regular game," he added. Ball actually had a really nice game in Cleveland last year, with 13 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

4) Even though Cleveland isn’t a formidable opponent, it’s meaningful that the Lakers won a close game. That used to be a problem for the Lakers, when they allowed opponents to run away from them. That led to an alarming number of blowout games two seasons ago. Now they have the mental fortitude to avoid such lapses. James and their other veterans are part of that change, as is the growing maturity of their young players. “We’ve learned that lesson on both sides where we think we have a game, we’re up 18 and we give in and we find a way to win it. … A lot of those games we fought back with a couple minutes left,” Walton said. “And that’s what — you want that inside your players.”

5) A dangerous moment came near the end of the game. With the Lakers ahead by three points, Cleveland’s Kyle Korver had a wide-open look to try to tie the score. Korver is not the guy you want to leave open. “We’re supposed to switch everything,” Walton said of the play. “Zo said he got held on the screen, so we’ll watch tape on it, but even if he got held, we should stunt from the guy taking the ball out of bounds.” Walton attributed this to Ball still learning. “He should be on the other side of that screen so it’s an easier switch,” Walton said. “Even though you’re giving direct line, you’re up three at that moment, that’s what hurts you. So we’re obviously happy Korver missed that, but we’re not happy he got such a clean look.”

Advertisement
Advertisement