The Lakers fell to Cleveland 114-100 thanks to a disastrous second half where Los Angles were outscored 56-36 by the Cavaliers.
Before the game, the roster and rotation was a mess. Patrick Beverly was ruled out due to an illness unrelated to covid, and coach Darvin Ham opted to add Kenrick Nunn to the starting lineup. Nunn was out of the rotation and received the start to keep Russell Westbrook on the bench as a super sub.
Nunn started well with a nice assist for Anthony Davis, which led to a quick dunk, but the main asset of the first quarter was Russ. He came on at the 7:59 mark of the first quarter and was nothing short of spectacular. He was 5-6 from the field and brought unparalleled energy and exuberance, signaling to the crowd that the defenders were too small and shaking on the floor after a tough And-1 field goal. Ever since he came off the bench, Russ isn’t Russ anymore. The Lakers finished the quarter with a 36-30 lead, which was, believe it or not, the first time they had won the first quarter all season.
In the second frame, the Lakers continued to pressure the Cavs’ frontcourt. Clevland had no answers for Russ, LeBron or AD leading to the paint. All three ended in double digits in the first half, and the Cavs couldn’t close the gap and finished the quarter 28 even; the Lakers took their six-point lead to the locker room at halftime.
But the Lakers have lost all but one third quarter this season (in their win over the Denver Nuggets), and on Sunday morning, things got off to a bad start in the third. Donovan Mitchell continued to hit his three, Jarret Allen got an easy slam, and the Cavs started with a 13-2 run and secured their first lead of the game.
Darvin Ham adjusted and brought Russ in to end the scoring drought, which he did with an alley-oop dunk to AD on his first possession. Another Lonnie layup and a Russ connection to Bron, and the Lakers killed the Cavs’ momentum and tied the game.
Westbrook already has 3 assists since registering around the 8th minute of the 3rd Q, totaling 8 in 18 minutes, helping stop a Cavs run that won them 5.
—Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 6, 2022
But with AD committing his fourth foul, he had to sit on the bench at the end of the four minutes. Wenyen Gabriel came in and made a valiant effort and contested shots and made the occasional field goal. The Lakers finished third, again losing the quarter battle, 29-16. And just like that, a six-point lead turned into a seven-point deficit before the final frame.
In the fourth, the Cavs closed the door in purple and gold, continuing their third-quarter run and scoring 17 unanswered points; down double digits, the Lakers were never able to regain the lead. On the Cleveland side, Donovan Mitchell had a game himself, scoring 33 points, and the Lakers fell to 2-7 on the season.
No rest for Lake’s show this week, with three more games to come, including tomorrow’s game against the Utah Jazz. The Lakers will have to find a way to move from moral wins to real wins, and do it quickly, because a 2-7 record in a competitive West doesn’t bode well for their playoff hopes. If there is a good team here somewhere, Darvin Ham must find it quickly.