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Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Cavs 104, Lakers 99: The Wreckage

By Andy Kamenetzky

As if more evidence was needed of why I deemed this loss "rock bottom," check out this factoid courtesy of Elias:

The Cavaliers' victory over the Lakers completes a 60-point turnaround from their previous meeting. The win marks the only time since the 2000-01 season that a team has lost by at least 55 points and has come back to defeat that same team in their next meeting that season.

With that in mind, your breakdown ...

The Bad (and the list could have been longer)

Offense
A 42.5 percent clip from the field states the obvious: The Lakers were the gang that couldn't shoot straight. If I may borrow some hip lingo popularized by the kids ... epic fail.

Defense
Lazy rotations. Bad transition defense. Poor protection of the paint to the tune of 50 points. Far too many shots uncontested. Far too many possessions with an air of indifference.

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Turnovers
Which is worse? Nineteen gaffes, or 23 points surrendered off said gaffes? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Andrew Bynum
After the Charlotte loss, Bynum inferred he didn't get enough second-half run or touches to make a difference. Well, he fell painfully short in proving his contention. Seven shots -- several of which qualified as "bunnies" -- were missed in as many tries in the first half. The team was feeding him buffet-style, but the meal went unconsumed. Were it not for a pair drained at the charity stripe, he'd have consumed halftime Gatorade without a scratch in the scoring column.

The second half treated Drew no kinder. A travel and a 3-second violation were picked up in succession, and he wrapped the night with six points (2-for-12 shooting), six rebounds and five fouls. And despite a pair of blocks, he provided little in the way of a defensive presence.

I'm not saying it's karma for his complaints, but the timing was horrible.

Kobe Bryant

I gave Kobe a pass for an underwhelming performance against the Magic, because he's been spectacular of late and Steve Blake, Shannon Brown and Derek Fisher provided so little backcourt help. I gave another pass after a very ineffective night against the Bobcats, because he was clearly under the weather. (If anything, I would have preferred he sat out the game.)

Against the Cavs, unless he's still sick, I don't know how to justify Bryant's night. He simply looked horrible and not even remotely like "Kobe."



Sixteen of his 24 shots failed to drop, and several were questionably launched to begin with. His often unstoppable turnaround jumper failed to draw iron on one possession, and he was uncharacteristically blocked twice. Looking equally vulnerable in space or in traffic, Bryant turned the ball over seven times, the most jarring on a crossover against Anthony Parker. In a repeat of his struggles against Charlotte, it was a night of dumb fouls, negotiating a screen with too much aggression and blatantly using his off-arm to clear space. (Two personals -- along with a technical -- were accumulated after 6:23 of run.)

Credit is due for a dozen rebounds, but like the majority of the Lakers, Bryant wasn't in sync with the game or his teammates.

Any particular reason for the struggles? I wouldn't know, because Bryant refused to address the media for the second straight game. As both a professional and a leader, Kobe has an obligation not to leave his teammates high and dry to handle all the questions. If it feels like accountability is lacking on this team, that act qualifies as an extension of the problem.

Ron Artest
When the game ended, I thought a one-point/zero-rebound/zero-presence in 17 minutes line would represent Ron's low point. Then I saw the following tweet:

dropping the whole Mixtape tonight instead. let me know what y'all think

We have a new low point.

Similar to the willingness to spray John Ireland with Unbreakable after the loss to Charlotte, it's called "time and place." These are the moments when fans jump all over Artest as a bad element and I have a hard time defending him. Even if these incidents aren't indicative of Artest being unfocused on the court, they reflect a complete obliviousness to the moment his team is experiencing. It's just not excusable, even for a player of Ron's eccentricities.
Lamar Odom

I can live with the six points, but four rebounds in 35 minutes? I expect much more from arguably the Lakers' best rebounder.

Phil Jackson
I have no idea what he's been saying to get his team ready over the past few games, but clearly, it's either ineffective or not being heard. Either way, the "Zen Master" has to take the blame on some level for three showings this poor.

The Good

Pau Gasol
The only thing worse than a five-point loss to the NBA's worst team would be a loss by double digits. Without the contributions of Gasol, that's what we'd be looking at. During a first half off the rails in a hurry, Gasol's steadiness kept the game reasonably tight. Six buckets were canned in as many tries during the first frame for 14 points, which accounted for two-thirds of the team's paltry total. Eight rebounds (five on the offensive glass), half of the team's bounty.

This laid the foundation for a 20-12 double-double before intermission, then 26-16 after three quarters. He finished the game with 30 points and 20 rebounds, a gaudy sum that could have been even higher had his teammates not inexplicably stopped looking for him in the fourth quarter.

Of course, why would you continue to feed the guy clearly doing the most damage? That would be logical, and the Lakers certainly play like a team dedicated toward common sense.

Like the rest of his teammates, Gasol suffered defensive lapses and, despite snagging 20 rebounds, managed to let various Cavs past him for loose balls. But it would be hard to say any Laker looked more prepared and willing to snap a losing streak than "El Spaniard."

Derek Fisher
If it feels like eons since Fish put up 19 points, that's only because it has been. Save the playoffs, he hasn't reached that mark since a 2009 outing against the Hornets. Eight of his 12 shots were money, with a trio of triples dropped for good measure. Yes, he stared at the back of Ramon Sessions' jersey on several possessions, but on a night this horrific, gold stars sadly will be handed out for showing up on just one side of the ball.