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Wrap-Up -- The Cavaliers’ motto for the 2018-19 season is “Be The Fight” – and on Sunday night in Tinseltown, the Wine & Gold came out ready to scrap.
Playing like a team angry about its 12-game skein and having given up 140-plus in two straight, the Cavaliers were aggressive from the opening tip – jumping on the Lakers early and refusing to buckle at any point, holding on for the 101-95 victory at Staples Center.
Through the first two games of their six-game roadie, the Cavaliers were drubbed defensively and got the lion’s share of their scoring from the second unit. On Sunday night, Cleveland flipped the script – holding the LeBron-less Lakers to just under 40 percent shooting and getting at least 15 points apiece from each of their starters.
The Lakers led Sunday’s contest for just over a minute. After JaVale McGee opened the scoring with a turnaround floater, it was all Wine & Gold – with Cleveland taking a double-digit lead less than eight minutes into the contest and holding on from there. L.A. made a push to start the second half and in the game’s closing moments, but Cleveland answered the call at every turn.
Playing their 11th straight game without the four-time MVP, the Lakers featured only three players in double-figures, shot just over 20 percent from beyond the arc and got just 20 points from their bench.
The Cavaliers starting five had no such trouble and while it wasn’t an offensive masterpiece for Coach Larry Drew’s squad, the Cavs were efficient enough to snap their dozen-game skein.
Cedi Osman, who led the squad in scoring with 21 points in the first meeting against L.A. this season, led Cleveland again – finishing with 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting to go with eight boards and a pair of steals.
Cavs starters score 87 of the Wine & Gold's 101 points on Sunday.
Two Cavaliers notched double-doubles in the win.
Alec Burks played an outstanding floor game – tallying 17 points, 13 boards, four assists and a steal – going 4-of-10 from the floor, including 2-of-5 from long-range.
Tristan Thompson – who doubled-up in the first meeting against the Lakers did so again on Sunday, finishing with 15 points on 7-for-14 shooting to go with a game-high 14 boards and a pair of blocks.
Rodney Hood did his best work early, netting 14 of his 18 points in the first half, going 6-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the stripe, adding three assists in the win.
Collin Sexton had his second solid outing against Lonzo Ball and the Lakers – rounding out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with three assists and a steal.
The Lakers were paced by Kyle Kuzma, who tallied 18 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter.
Indicative of the bare-knuckle affair, the Lakers grabbed 52 boards to Cleveland’s 51 and committed 22 personal fouls to the Cavs’ 21. Both teams finished with 52 points in the paint and 14 second-chance points.
The difference came at the foul line – where the Cavaliers connected on 73 percent of their shots while the Lakers missed 11 of their 27 free throw attempts.
Turning Point -- The third period has been a difficult one for the Wine & Gold this season – and at the outset of the second half on Sunday, it looked like those blues might re-emerge.
Cleveland took a five-point lead into the locker room after leading for almost the entire first stanza. But the Lakers would proceed to score the first five points of the second half, cutting the Cavs’ one-time 15-point edge to a single point.
But instead of folding, the Cavaliers answered with a quick 10-0 run – bookended by triples from Alec Burks and Cedi Osman. Cleveland maintained that 10-point edge into the fourth quarter, weathering a late Lakers’ rally and holding on for their first win of the new year.
By the Numbers – 18 … double-doubles that Tristan Thompson has tallied this season – including Sunday night’s effort in L.A. – averaging 15.4 points and 14.8 boards on 55 percent shooting in those contests.
Quotable – Cedi Osman, on the Cavaliers’ strong effort in Sunday’s win …
”We played at a really good pace. We were sharing the basketball and, very importantly, we did a good job of talking defensively. (We) forced them to take some bad shots. They obviously were playing at a good pace. We made them take some bad shots and that was what we tried to force them (to do). I think we did a really nice job of that today.”
Up Next -- Now halfway through their longest road trip of the season, the Wine & Gold travel to Portland on Wednesday night for a meeting with Damian Lillard and the Blazers. The Cavaliers then wrap up the roadie with a weekend back-to-back – heading to Salt Lake City for a battle with the Jazz on Friday night before closing out on Saturday night against the Nuggets in Denver. The Cavs return home for an MLK Day afternoon matchup against the Bulls.