The first two games of the Wine & Gold’s current roadie were decided in the game’s final moments or overtime. Monday’s contest against the Lakers never got that far.
The Cavaliers went toe-to-toe with the Conference-leading Lakers in the first half and led by a point at the break. But L.A. hit the afterburners in the second stanza – outscoring Cleveland, 81-51, over the final 24 minutes to take the 128-99 win at Staples Center.
The decision snapped the Cavs’ win streak at two and extended the Lakers’ to nine.
John Beilein’s young squad held LeBron James to just eight points in the first half, but in a microcosm of the game, the four-time MVP did pretty much what he wanted after intermission – scoring 23 of his game-high 31 points, going 9-of-10 from the floor in the second half and 12-of-16 overall, leading both teams with eight assists to go with a pair of boards and a steal.
But it was more than just LeBron that did the Wine & Gold in.
The Cavaliers committed 20 turnovers – 17 over the final three quarters – that led to 31 Lakers points and Cleveland’s bench was outscored, 60-14, mainly behind Dwight Howard’s 21-point, 15-rebound performance in just 24 minutes off the bench.
Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 21 points, going 7-of-17 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the stripe, adding a team-high 11 boards and three assists.
Tristan Thompson, who began the night checking LeBron, followed up with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with 10 rebounds – six off the offensive glass – adding a pair of assists and a steal.
Cleveland’s young backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland was flummoxed for much of the night. Both finished with 16 points – with Garland going 6-of-16 from the floor and Sexton, 7-for-13, with each adding four assists apiece.
Cedi Osman shot the ball well from long-distance – going 4-of-6 from deep to finish with 15 points, four boards and an assist.
Darius Garland weaves around the Lakers defense and picks out Tristan Thompson with a wonderful pass that lead to a powerful Thompson slam.
The turning point of this one isn’t hard to detect. It was when both teams left the halftime locker room.
Cleveland had led by two TDs in the first half and never trailed, but the Lakers started chipping away right before intermission – cutting the Cavs lead to just one, 48-47.
But the Lakers took the lead right after halftime when Danny Green opened the scoring with a short jumper. Darius Garland’s jumper at the 8:25 mark gave Cleveland a brief one-point lead, but Los Angeles would proceed to outscore the Wine & Gold, 29-24, over the remainder of the period and essentially put the game on ice early in the fourth quarter – leading by as many as 32 down the stretch.
BY THE NUMBERS
10 … games this season that Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love have each tallied double-doubles, including Monday night’s matchup at Staples Center.
Thompson now has now doubled-up 21 times this season – good for a tie with Ben Simmons for 6th-best in the Eastern Conference – Love’s 17 ties him with Wendell Carter Jr. for 10th.
Coach John Beilein, on L.A.’s big second half on Monday night …
”Second half, we got off to a tough start – we missed some free throws, we had some turnovers to start and when the pendulum began to swing, we couldn’t stop it. LeBron took matters into his own hands as he has for years and we just didn’t have any answers for some of that. But there’s a lot of positives that we can take from that game, playing against another team that can compete for the NBA Championship.”
CALLS OF THE GAME
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network’s Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega’s Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
The Wine & Gold complete the Hollywood back-to-back on Tuesday night, taking on Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers right here at Staples Center.
After a couple days off, the Cavaliers wrap up the roadie this weekend – taking on Ja Morant and the up-and-coming Grizzlies on Friday night in Memphis followed by a Saturday showdown in the Windy City to close out the 11-day sojourn.