Lakers-Cavaliers takeaways: Kendrick Nunn’s struggles continue

Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn drives to the basket against Cavaliers guard Darius Garland.
Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn drives to the basket against Cavaliers guard Darius Garland during the first half Sunday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn is struggling.

He can’t make a shot. His defense has been OK at best. His playing time has been spotty because of his uneven play. He has not been the spark the Lakers sought when signing him two summers ago as a free agent.

When he got the start in place of Patrick Beverley (non-COVID illness) at point guard Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Nunn still was unable to get into a groove.

He missed all five of his shots, including four three-point attempts, and went scoreless.

“I’m just trying to take the lid off the basket,” Nunn said. “That’s all. That’s it. I got some great looks, just taking that lid off and getting comfortable in my spots, get comfortable seeing where they are coming from. I’ll be good.”


His new Lakers teammate, guard Lonnie Walker IV, reminded reporters that Nunn sat out all of last season because of a bone bruise in his right knee, and that the guard still is trying to find his rhythm and get his game on track.

The Lakers’ Big Three combined to shoot better than 50% from the field, but the rest of the team’s offensive woes were evident Sunday in a loss to Cleveland.

Nov. 6, 2022

Nunn played 18 minutes 22 seconds in his role as a starter. He did have two assists and three rebounds. His plus-minus rating was minus-three.

Nunn maintained his confidence remains high.

“My confidence is still there,” Nunn said. “That ain’t going nowhere.”

Here are three takeaways from the Lakers’ 114-100 loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday:

1. Nunn provided the Lakers with a lift in the first game of the season against the Golden State Warriors, scoring a season-high 13 points on five-for-nine shooting, three for six on three-pointers.

He hasn’t provided the Lakers much since then. Nunn played just one minute in a loss against the Utah Jazz on Friday night, his playing time cut because of subpar play.

In the eight games he has played this season, Nunn is averaging 12.3 minutes, 4.3 points and is shooting 28.6% from the field and 23.1% from three-point range. His plus-minus rating is a negative 4.0 per game.

With Beverley not traveling to Salt Lake City for Monday night’s game against the Jazz, the Lakers probably will be counting on Nunn again.

“I saw a good energy to start. He made some good plays,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “But, again, it’s about maintaining that. … And without Pat Bev being here tonight, different guys ailing from this little viral stomach flu, whatever it is, it’s even more imperative that [guys] step up and are ready to play a full 48-minute game.”

2. Whether it was because they were fouling too much or they just couldn’t make free throws, the Lakers had problems at the free-throw line.

The Cavaliers made 20 more free throws than the Lakers, going 32 for 36 from the free-throw line for 88.9%.

The Lakers shot 12 for 21 from the free-throw line for 57.1%.

LeBron James took just three free throws, missing all of them.

Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell made as many free throws (12 of 13) as the Lakers.

“I’m always going to reflect on us and just hold us accountable,” said Troy Brown Jr., who didn’t shoot a free throw. “We talked about it at halftime, how we said, ‘No fouling,’ and that was biggest thing. I felt like we came out in the second half and did the exact opposite. That’s on us. We just got to be better and just hold each other accountable when it comes to the fouling.”

3. The Lakers didn’t take care of the basketball enough, turning it over 17 times.

Russell Westbrook had seven of the turnovers.

“Yeah, I don’t mind trying to make the right reads and turnovers happen,” Westbrook said. “I’ll be better tomorrow. That ain’t nothing I’m worried about.”