Cavs Rally Falls Short in L.A.

Kyrie Irving paced the Cavaliers with 21 points on Friday.
Andrew D. Bernstein
NBAE.Getty Images
When the Wine and Gold came to Staples Center last season, the Lakers seemed to blow past the Cavaliers as soon as the ball went up at center court. On Friday night, they couldn’t shake Cleveland for four quarters.

Eventually, Kobe Bryant – who’s now notched 40-plus points in each of his last three games – took over. But until those closing moments, Byron Scott’s squad put a good scare into the LakeShow, falling 97-92 in Tinseltown.

L.A.’s Matt Barnes scored on a layup early in the third quarter to make it 65-46 and it looked like the Cavs were in for another road blowout at the hands of the Lakers. But after chipping away through the third, Ramon Sessions keyed a 9-0 run to start the final period and Cleveland found itself down just three, 82-79, with just over seven minutes to play.

But the white-hot Bryant bounced back, canning a pair of 18-footers to keep the Cavaliers at bay.

“I never look at games like this as a moral victory, that’s the bottom line,” said Coach Scott, who got a huge pregame ovation. “The bottom line is we want to win the basketball game.”

Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 21 points – his fourth straight contest of scoring at least 20. The precocious point went an even 8-for-16 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from long distance.

Ramon Sessions netted eight of his 12 points in Cleveland’s second-half push and Anderson Varejao and Omri Casspi added 11 points apiece. The Wild Thing ruled the boards once again, snagging 14 more rebounds. In 11 games this season, Anderson has grabbed double-digit boards in all but two.

“The second team, we’re all about pushing the ball, pushing the tempo; be a little more aggressive,” said Sessions. “We’re out there for limited minutes and we have to take advantage of those minutes. Tristan did well on the boards, Semih’s getting used to what’s going out there. It all helped out.”

Rookie Tristan Thompson barely missed his first double-double – adding nine points and eight boards.

Four of the Lakers starters tallied double-figures and the fifth, Derek Fisher, led everyone with 10 assists. On the evening, Bryant was 15-for-31 from the field, 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

The Cavaliers wrap up the West coast leg of their longest roadie of the season at 2-4 and head to Charlotte for a Martin Luther King Day matinee on Tobacco Road.

  • The Cavaliers bench – the second-highest scoring second unit in the Eastern Conference – mauled L.A.’s reserves, 36-4.

  • Friday night’s matchup with the Lakers was the 100th meeting of all-time between the two clubs. With the victory, L.A. moved to 59-41 against the Cavaliers.

  • Prior to Friday’s game, former Cavalier coach Mike Brown expressed his opinion on who’s really responsible for the Cavaliers success – more precisely, the acquisition of Kyrie Irving.

    “Dan Gilbert can take all the credit he wants, Chris Grant can take all the credit he wants, same with Byron Scott,” said a straight-faced Brown. “But you have to understand: Nick Gilbert is the guy who got Kyrie Irving. I hate to burst the other guys' bubbles, but Nick deserves the credit.”

  • Byron Scott made it clear that his team won’t use back-to-back games as an out this season, and that showed in Friday’s effort.

    “The message is clear – there are no excuses,” said Scott before the game. “You cannot use back-to-back as a crutch. That was my message – we’re not going to use it as an excuse, we’re gonna come out here and play and see what happens. The young guys have been through it, the team has been through it. There’s no excuses.”

  • Kyrie Irving said he changed his diet to help him deal with back-to-backs. Before the game in Toronto, all he had were some pretzels (“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he joked.) Before his 21-point effort against L.A. he went with something more traditional (and filling) – spaghetti and meatballs.

  • Some of the celebrities spotted at Friday’s game were … the regulars: Jack Nicholson, Penny Marshall and Dyann Cannon. Also spotted were Adam Sandler, seated next to Jack, Cameron Diaz, dressed in a hot red dress, Andy Garcia, walking around with his fly down and former Eagle and Kent Stater, Joe Walsh, on the “Kiss-Cam.”

  • Former Cavalier, Matt Barnes, pulled the punk move of the season in the second quarter. On a side-out inbounds play, he faked the pass but bounced it slightly off Omri Casspi’s face. The refs didn’t see the play and Casspi’s complaints fell on deaf ears. The Cavs forward talked about keeping his composure afterward.

    “I think I lost it for a minute or two,” said Casspi. “I went to the locker room at halftime and told myself ‘it happens and you keep going.’”

  • From the No-Respect Department: Lakers PA announcer, Lawrence Tanter – actually one of the best in the business – accidentally called Tristan Thompson “Tristan Thomas” on his first made bucket. This, on the heels of Kyrie Irving being listed as “Kyle Irving” in Detroit’s game notes and as “Kyrie Evans” in a Toronto newspaper.

  • From the No Justice, No Peace Department: It was disappointing to go a whole evening without hearing Tanter say the name “Metta World Peace” – who’s gone 5-for-23 from the floor over his last six games and got his first DNP-CD of the season.

  • With the Cavs longest trip of the season nearly over, Kyrie summed up how he and his teammates feel about themselves as they head back East.

    “I think our team attitude right now is that we’re contenders,” said the freshman guard. “I feel like we’re a different team than the one from last year. And every team we play against, we feel like we can win. I think that’s the attitude, collectively, of everybody.”