Lakers 112, Cavaliers 57: What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen

Cavs01

There's nothing left of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Once there was a basketball team, but now there's just a garnet and gold smear across Figueroa Street, where tonight the Lakers ran them over, backed up, ran them over again and then shoveled up their remains to use as fertilizer. History will record that the Lake Show defeated the Cavs this evening by the blood-curdling score of 112 to 57, which is the sort of result we're accustomed to seeing only in women's college hoops or in Olympic group play circa 1992, but numbers can't adequately describe the humiliation administered by the champs in this one. This was the basketball equivalent of snuff porn, and I frankly feel a bit dirty for having watched it.

The Lakers played a near-perfect game and shattered their hapless opponent on both ends of the floor. The offense was a masters' seminar in spacing and ball movement. Crisp, smart passing opened multiple angles of attack on every play, which the Lake Show exploited to generate point-blank looks in the paint or wide open corner threes. Their defense was essentially impregnable. Feet were moving, and arms and hands were flying everywhere. It went beyond forcing difficult shots: at times the Cavs struggled to complete a pass. The lead reached double digits inside the first five minutes. In the second quarter it touched 34, in the third it hit 51, and late in the forth it reached its peak of 56. Honestly, I don't understand why the Lakers couldn't have done this against the Cavs last Christmas.

Putting it all in some kind of perspective: This was the third time in history, and the first since 1972, that the Lakers won a game by more than 50. The 57 points scored by the Cavs is a historic low both for them and for a Laker opponent. The 1.26 points per possession scored by the Lakers is "only" their sixth-best offensive efficiency mark of the season, but the 0.64 points per trip they allowed is far and away their stingiest defensive performance of the year. The previous low was 0.86, to which they held Golden State on Halloween night.

What made all this especially enjoyable is that it didn't result from some crazy individual heroics from Kobe Bryant. Don't get me wrong, Kobe was brilliant. But he operated almost exclusively as a table-setter for others. It became apparent very early on that Cleveland had no ability to stop Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol in the post. Recognizing as much, Kobe put his talents to use breaking his man down off the dribble and then feeding a big when the D collapsed. When halftime rolled around, the Lakers had scored 57 points despite only two field-goal attempts by the Mamba.

Drew (15 points, six rebounds and five blocks) and Pau (13 points and 14 boards) both had stretches of dominance. And although the Cavs' interior defense looked bad, in part it's because Drew and Pau made them look bad. Both seven-footers played with an appetite for destruction, fighting for good position, going up strong to hoop, and never letting a Cavs' shot go unchallenged. And when they kicked the ball out, their unselfishness was rewarded. Ten three-pointers on 20 attempts tonight for the Lakers, the first time they've made at least half of their threes in a game since November 19th. Granted, one of those makes was a halfcourt buzzer-beater by Shannon Brown at the end of the third, but if you saw it, you know it was no fluke. Shannon had that mofo totally lined up.

Here are the two teams' points per possession by quarter:

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

Game

Cavs

0.52

0.62

0.76

0.67

0.64

Lakers

1.17

1.43

1.67

0.83

1.26

As you can see, this would've been a lot worse had it not been for fourth-quarter garbagio time. Pau's the only starter who saw the floor in the final period. The sickeningly one-sided nature of tonight's contest allowed all the key bros to play limited minutes, which will come in handy tomorrow night in Oakland, and it gave some run to little-used reserves Derrick Caracter, Devin Ebanks and Joe Smith. It was good to see DC and Ebanks combined for 13 points on just eight shots. Keep it up, young'uns.

C.A. wrote this afternoon about how a game like this presents a mental test for the Lakers: could they summon the focus to score a quick knockout, or would they let the Cavs stay in it? Clearly they passed the test more convincingly than any of us thought they might. But a 55-point win throws up a mental test of a different kind. They need to forget these gaudy numbers as quickly as possible. Tomorrow's a new opponent, one with loads more talent than this blundering Cleveland squad, and when the ball's thrown up in Oakland the score will be 0-0. If the Lakers fall to Golden State, the euphoria over tonight's game will be short-lived indeed.

But we'll worry about that tomorrow. Until then, feel free to put these highlights on a continuous loop.


 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

Cle.

89

18

0.21

63

0.18

35

7

31

34

26

70

0.64

L.A.

89

12

0.17

67

0.23

55

50

59

60

30

74

1.26

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

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