5 Quick Takes: Cavs play uphill all night in LA, then go downhill

LeBron James and the Cavaliers were stunned by the Pacers in Game 1 of their first-round series Sunday.

Five quick takes after the Cleveland Cavaliers were embarrassed by the Los Angeles Lakers, 127-113, on Sunday night at Staples Center…

1. Trailing from the get-go (where have we heard that before?), the Cavaliers were fighting an uphill fight all night. However, they finally caught the Lakers at 72 at the 7:10 mark of the third quarter on an alley-oop from LeBron James to Larry Nance, then again at 76. However, Los Angeles closed the quarter on a 22-6 run to build a 98-82 lead through three quarters and the deed was essentially done.

2. In a matchup of players facing their former teams, Isaiah Thomas of the Lakers stole the show. The former Cavalier scored 20 points and added five rebounds and nine assists in 31 minutes, shooting 7-of-16 from the field. Consider — Thomas’ 20 points were four more than those posted by George Hill, J.R. Smith and Jordan Clarkson… combined. Thomas finished with a plus-18 rating for the game.

3. James scored 24 points and added 10 boards and seven dimes, including an gorgeous no-look pass to Ante Zizic for a second-quarter dunk, in 31 minutes, recording his 39th double-double of the season. James shot 9-of-20 from the floor, including just 2-of-8 from the 3-point line. Nance Jr. had 16 points and eight boards in his return to LA, while Zizic posted a career-high with 15 points (on 7-of-9 shooting) and seven rebounds in 20 solid minutes and Jose Calderon had 14 points.

4. Meanwhile, the Lakers (29-36) had four guys score 20 or more, led by a career-high 36 points (and 14 rebounds) by Julius Randle, while Brook Lopez (22), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20) and Thomas joined him. The Lakers scored 62 points in the paint, outrebounded the Cavaliers, 51-37, and had 14 offensive boards and 18 second-chance points. Missing All-Star Kevin Love (broken left hand) and Tristan Thompson (right ankle) inside, along with Rodney Hood (back) and rookie Cedi Osman (left hip), Cleveland was simply no match for LA.

5. The Cavaliers (38-28) woke up today standing fourth in the Eastern Conference, behind Toronto (49-17), Boston (46-21) and Indiana (39-28). Cleveland is but 2.5 games out of seventh place and 3.5 out of eighth. At this point, simply having homecourt advantage in the first-round of the playoffs would perhaps be a realistic goal of which to shoot. On their longest road trip of the season, the Cavaliers are 1-2, with games at Phoenix (Tuesday), red-hot Portland (Thursday) and Chicago (Saturday) remaining to be played. Cleveland is now 16-17 on the road this season.

8 Comments on "5 Quick Takes: Cavs play uphill all night in LA, then go downhill"

  1. Is it too late to fire Lue?

  2. After all the trades, and accounting for injuries, that this Cavs team still cant defend adequately is down to Lue and his coaching staff. That the likes of LBJ and JR Smith in particular, as well as others, still show next to no effort for the most part on the defensive end 20 or so games away from the playoffs, tells a pretty horrible picture for Ty Lue, and his staff.

    • Hey, Steve… We can only speculate on what happened to the guy who coached the Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship, challenging LeBron in a huddle during the decisive and memorable Game 7. It’s difficult to fathom why this team has not defended this season. It should be noted, since The New 4 were acquired, the Cavaliers were 14th in the league in terms of defensive rating entering Sunday. So perhaps there is hope…

      • Maybe you’re right mate, they have been better since the new 4 arrived, but watching them defend, or maybe not defend the Lakers is more apt, there was no talk, no help defence ( LeBron ) and JR just being the bad JR of all season, just brought back the frustration with watching the Cavs before the trade deadline. I do understand they are down bodies with injuries but it wasn’t pretty. Though what I said about Lue and his staff still stands. What the hell are they doing?

        • Hola, Steve… You nailed it — watching the game Sunday night took everyone back to the pre-deadline days in terms of defense. It was, in a word, awful. It was ugly, there’s no sugarcoating it. If that type of (non) effort is still in effect after all the walking wounded return, it will be a very short playoff run this season.

  3. When Kevin love coming back ?? Isn’t suppose to be playing

    • Hey, Damir.. Love’s been down about six weeks, which would put him another couple of weeks or so from returning, if we are to go with the timetable the Cavs gave (6 to 8 weeks) at the time of his injury.

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