(David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)
10 Things to Know: Lakers vs. Cavaliers (3/19/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
1) Brandon Ingram is beginning to find his stride this month, having shot 50.6 percent from the field in March. He has been especially strong at the rim, where he has hit 21-of-30, including a highlight slam over Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Malcolm Brogdon on Friday.
2) Friday’s game saw the Lakers nearly rally from an 18-point deficit to beat the Bucks. Led by Jordan Clarkson, who scored 21 points, Los Angeles went on a late 7-0 run to pull within three in the final minute. But Milwaukee hit its free throws to seal the outcome.
3) Last time the purple and gold faced Cleveland, the Cavaliers’ “Big Three” went off, as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 74 points, 30 rebounds and 25 assists. Though the Lakers fell, Ingram did have one of the best games of his rookie year, as the 19-year-old packaged together nine points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, coming just shy of the youngest triple-double in league history.
4) Cleveland is playing at Staples Center for the second straight night, having been thumped by the LA Clippers on Saturday. However, the cause of the 30-point loss is quite clear, as the Cavaliers rested James, Irving and Love. In their place, 36-year-old Richard Jefferson led the team in scoring with only 12 points.
5) Despite some fierce competition from the likes of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard, LeBron is putting together a case for his fifth MVP award. The 13-year veteran has been a machine, playing the NBA’s second-most minutes (37.5), while ranking sixth in assists (8.8), ninth in scoring (26.0) and 11th in field goal percentage (54.2). He has been nearly impossible to stop from getting to the hoop, as he leads the league in both made layups (247) and field goal percentage on layups (71.6).
6) LeBron always seems to bring out his best against the Lakers, having beaten L.A. nine straight times since January 2013. He has also won 14 of his last 15 against the purple and gold, dating back to his first stint with the Cavs.
7) When LeBron isn’t the one carrying the offense for Cleveland, it’s likely that Irving is. The 2011 first-overall pick has been one of the league’s deadliest scorers, averaging a career-best 25.1 points while hitting double digits in 59 of his 60 games this year. Irving and his arsenal of dribble moves have claimed many victims this year, as he is also the third-highest isolation scorer (5.3).
8) Cleveland is happy to have Love back after he missed 13 straight games over the last month. His unique skill set fits perfectly for the Cavaliers, as he hits the second-most 3-pointers among big men (2.5), but still manages to fight in the paint, as he is a top-10 rebounder and one of just 14 players averaging a double-double (19.8 ppg, 11.0 rpg).
9) If anyone knows this team, it’s Lakers coach Luke Walton, who ended his playing career in Cleveland four years ago. Walton is quite familiar with about a quarter of his opponent’s roster, as Irving and Tristan Thompson were teammates of his on the Cavs, while Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson played with him at the University of Arizona. Jefferson, in particular, is close with Walton and was even the best man at his wedding.
10) This Cleveland squad isn’t shy about letting it fly, as it is on pace to tie last year’s Golden State team’s record for the most 3-pointers in NBA history (13.1). The Cavs also rank second in the NBA in 3-point percentage (38.8), though they could be without the league’s third-most accurate shooter from deep, Kyle Korver (44.7 percent), who has missed six games due to a leg injury.
Lakers: Larry Nance Jr. (right wrist sprain) and Nick Young (left ring finger sprain) are probable. Tarik Black (flu) is questionable.
Cavaliers: Kyle Korver (left foot soreness) is TBD.
Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW