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Lakers fall apart down stretch without AD, lose to Cavs

Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers battled on the road without Anthony Davis, but still fell short against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Facing off against LeBron James’ former team, the Lakers were unable to get the victory on the road falling against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 116-102. LeBron led all Lakers with 21 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, and Thomas Bryant had his best game of the season scoring 17 off the bench covering for Anthony Davis, who suffered from flu-like symptoms early in the game and was ruled out.

For Cleveland, Jarrett Allen played well in his return to the lineup. He scored 24 points, 22 of which came in the first half, and Donovan Mitchell exploded late to lead all scorers with 43.

Against the Cavs, Darvin Ham opted to use the same starting five he played against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Given that the Lakers have not used any five-man lineup for more than 47 minutes — putting them at the bottom of this category for the second year in a row —consistency at the start could be seen as a breath of fresh air if it was being rewarded.

In Cleveland, it once again was not, as the Cavs came out of the gates on a 10-3 run. Midway through the quarter Ham made an adjustment subbing in Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves and Troy Brown Jr. simultaneously. This change worked, and the Lakers went on an 8-0 run of their own to cut the lead to three. At the 3:42 mark, Davis went to the locker room with flu-like symptoms and was later officially ruled out of the game. With AD gone, Bryant stepped up and scored five off the bench and the Lakers trailed by just one point after the first 12 minutes.

In the second quarter, Cleveland took advantage of the absence of the Lakers’ MVP, and Jarett Allen attacked the Los Angeles defense. In the first half he was 10-11 from the field and led the Cavs with 22 points.

How did the Lakers respond? With LeBron. The King proved he is still an impact player against his hometown team; he led all Lakers with six points in the quarter and helped the Lakers stay afloat. It wasn’t sustainable for the entire quarter, however, as the effect of two big men (Davis and Wenyen Gabriel) being gone started showing as the Cavs pulled away in the closing minutes of the quarter and led the Lakers 57-49 at the half.

With the Lakers staring down at their first defeat of the road trip, they came out and took control to start the third. Bryant continued to attack the boards and get buckets, Damian Jones finally got some playing time and did the little things to extend plays and Bron added ten points in the quarter to keep the offense moving. Cleveland struggled to score during the non-Donovan Mitchell minutes and Jarett Allen cooled down, scoring zero points in the third. Despite the struggles, Cleveland was able to maintain control and held on to a two-point lead, entering the final quarter.

Could James do enough without his co-star to pull off another road win? Not quite. The Cavs went on an 8-0 run midway through the final frame, and despite a valiant effort from Bryant and Damian Jones, the lack of size and rim protection became evident, and the scoreboard reflected that. Donovan Mitchell became a flamethrower from deep and ended a night that saw him start slow with 43 points. The final nail in the coffin happened at the 8:32 mark, when Cleveland went on a 21-8 run after the score was tied at 92. Mitchell hit a dagger three and Darvin Ham cleared the bench. That was all she wrote.

Key Takeaways

It was impressive that the Lakers only lost the rebounding battle by one with AD out, but their constant turnovers killed that effort. The Lakers had 16 compared to Cleveland’s eight and with the margin for error on the road and without their star being so slim, it’s hard to overcome giving so many possessions away.

The Lakers won’t have to wait long to try and put this one behind them, as they take on the Raptors in Toronto at 4:30 p.m. PT tomorrow. AD’s status is obviously up in the air for that one, but stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for updates.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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