GameDay Preview: Cavs at Lakers

Alonzo Gee, Kobe Bryant
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (9-29) continue their five-game road trip out West with a stop at the Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Lakers (15-21) for the final meeting between the two teams this season. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. ET.

The Wine and Gold look to bounce back from a hard-fought loss in Denver to the Nuggets on Friday while the Lakers hope to snap a six-game losing skid.

In the first matchup with the Lakers on Dec. 11, the Cavs’ defense held Los Angeles to .413 (31-75) shooting from the field and just 11 assists on the night en route to a 100-94 victory at The Q.

Los Angeles comes into tonight's contest suffering a slew of injuries to some key players, most notably their big man tandem of Paul Gasol and Dwight Howard. Despite the Lakers early woes, Kobe Bryant is putting together another superb season in leading the league in scoring at 30.0 points per game.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller

Lakers: PG - Steve Nash, SG - Kobe Bryant, SF - Metta World Peace
PF - Earl Clark, C - Dwight Howard

Injuries: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao, (Vastus Medialis Split/Surgery, Out)
(Lakers) - Pau Gasol (Concussion, Out), Dwight Howard (Torn Labrum, Right Shoulder, Out), Steve Blake (Abdominal Surgery, Out), Jordan Hill (Labral Tear, Left Hip / Herniated Disc), Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series against the Lakers, 59-42, posting a 28-23 mark in games played at home with the Lakers tallying a 36-14 record in games played in their home arena. Cleveland has won nine of the last 13 games against the Lakers and split the last six contests in Los Angeles.

In their last matchup, Kyrie Irving recorded a double-double with 28 points, including shooting 4-6 (.667) from the three-point line, six rebounds and a season-high 11 assists in 38 minutes, while C.J. Miles made his first start of the year and tallied a then season-high 28 points, including 5-10 (.550) from behind the arc, and five rebounds in 37 minutes.

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Forcing Turnovers

Against Denver on Friday, the Cavs forced the Nuggets to turn over the ball 22 times and converted their miscues into 24 points. Cleveland has forced at least 20 turnovers seven times this season and rank 4th in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game (15.7). They are forcing an average of 18.0 miscues over the last four contests.

The Lakers turnover the ball at the sixth-highest rate in the NBA at 15.25 per game, so the Cavaliers will need to convert those opportunities into fastbreak points to give themselves an advantage.

Key Matchup

Alonzo Gee vs. Kobe Byrant

As mentioned, the Lakers are banged up, and will rely heavily on the offense of Kobe Bryant.

Bryant torched the Cavs for 42 points in the two teams' last meeting despite the defensive efforts of Alonzo Gee.

No team has ever been able to fully stop him, but if Gee and the Cavaliers defense as a whole can contain Bryant, the rest of the Lakers lineup should struggle to find points.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM & Sirius 85, NBA League Pass Audio