The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t want to win in the future, like most of the NBA – they want their wins to come now, and hopefully getting them to the playoffs. Adding Luol Deng to the struggling squad was a good start, and playing a weak team like the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t hurt as well.
You’d expect a team with Luol Deng and Anderson Varejao to be a bit better on the defensive side, but it didn’t matter. The Lakers ran the floor well, outscoring the Cavs by 12-points in transition. So? Cleveland simply pushed the ball into the paint. The Cavs grabbed 16 offensive rebounds against a team that might have Pau Gasol as their starting center, but no matter what big-man combination Mike D’Antoni tries, his team keeps getting beat down low.
This was a special win for Mike Brown, who wasn’t exactly let go gently by the Lakers at the beginning of last season. Starting out at 0-4 usually doesn’t get you axed by franchises, but there was probably more than just the record going on there. Brown becomes just the 2nd head coach to win in his first game at the Lakers after coaching the team (he’s the ninth head coach to return).
I don’t care where I am, I really want wins. If we win, I can take some satisfaction from it, but there’s a lot of learning we can do from this game, too. There’s a lot more optimism and a lot more talent now that Luol has been added to the mix. He’s a great addition, and to get him on this road trip was big for us. We talked at halftime about coming out with a lot of energy, and I thought we responded well. Once we got the lead, they tried to get back in the game, and it was back and forth. But I thought we did a good job of keeping the lead and controlling the game at the end.
Deng? He scored 27 points in his best game since leaving the Bulls, hitting a perfect 5-for-5 to point out just how bad the Lakers are when it comes to defense on the perimeter too. Kyrie Irving seemed to draw most of the focus from the defense with the very limited resources. He had a bad game (and a bad season so far) with 13 points on 5-of-12 from the field, but there was plenty of help from Varejao (18 points, 16 rebounds), Tristan Thompson (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Dion Waiters adding 17 points off the bench.
The Lakers? D’Antoni is running his offense with the wrong players. He continus to play with two big men, hoping it somehow helps their rebounding and defense issues, but nothing is helping. Nick Young is putting up big numbers from the bench (26 in the loss, 3rd game with 21 points or more in the last five). Jodie Meeks added 26 and Pau Gasol scored 20. The offense was there, but as many predicted earlier this season, defense is a huge problem that no offensive scheme and fun-to-watch style is going to make up for.