Rapid Reaction: Lakers 113, Cavaliers 93

January, 13, 2013
1/13/13
8:54
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
LOS ANGELES -- If you listen to Mike D'Antoni, it might be mid-January already, but the Lakers are 1-0.

"I told the team that the biggest thing is that our season starts Sunday," D'Antoni said after the Lakers lost 116-101 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday to give them a 15-21 record and extended their losing streak to six.

Well, then I guess you can say the Lakers came out of the gates strong with their win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.

If only hitting the reset button on the season could be that easy. Nevertheless, the Lakers are 16-21 and still on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture looking in.

Reset button or not, at least they took care of business and stopped the bleeding.

How it happened: The short answer is that Dwight Howard returned from the right shoulder injury that caused him to miss the past three games and dominated.

Howard finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 30 minutes of work, going 9-for-11 from the field.

The longer answer is that the Lakers jumped out to a 37-20 lead after the first quarter and continued to pour it on from top to bottom, putting four starters in double digits along with two bench players.

What it means: If it wasn't abundantly clear already this season, the Lakers need more than Kobe Bryant to win on a consistent basis.

Bryant was splendid Sunday (23 points on 9-for-14 shooting and six assists), but the win came down to a total team effort on both offense and defense as the Lakers shared the ball on O and limited the Cavs to just 41.1 percent shooting on D.

Hits: A trio of role players came up big as Antawn Jamison (16 points after scoring 19 against the Thunder), Darius Morris (14 points) and Earl Clark (13 points, nine rebounds and four assists as the "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll Earl" movement continues).

Misses: The Lakers had 13 turnovers in the first half leading to 14 points for Cleveland. L.A. ended up with 22 turnovers for the game, seven of which belonged to Howard.

Jodie Meeks did not play until garbage time in the fourth quarter, with L.A. already up by 20-plus points. His playing time has been limited recently as he totaled just six minutes against San Antonio and 15 minutes against Oklahoma City coming into Sunday.

Stats of the night: The Lakers shot 13-for-25 from 3 (52.0 percent) as a team, led by Bryant (3-for-4) and Jamison (4-for-5).

L.A. assisted on 80 percent of its made baskets (32 of 40).

What's next: The Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, one of the two teams in the league other than the Lakers (along with Brooklyn) to fire their head coach this season. The key will be for L.A. to not overlook the Bucks with the Miami Heat coming to town Thursday. They need every game just as much as the next one at this point. The last time the Lakers had consecutive wins was when they won their fifth in a row Christmas Day against the New York Knicks.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 5.0 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.3
AssistsK. Bryant 5.0
StealsK. Bryant 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2