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Lakers-Cavs Preview: On the Rebound

Hello, Cleveland.  It's mighty nice to see you guys right now.  Following their best win of the season in Boston, then whooping the Knicks the next night, the Lakers fell victim to fatigue and suffered two straight losses to the Magic and Bobcats in back-to-back nights.  

Don't read me wrong.  I'm not blaming fatigue for the losses, but it sure didn't help.  The Lakers were hanging tough with Orlando, until they ran out of gas.  Against the Air Jordans, the tank was empty.  Plus, Charlotte owns us for some reason.  Hence the largest defeat of the season.  In the Bobcats game preview, C.A. predicted a loss considering the tough predicament of having to play four games in five nights.

And I've spent so much time talking about all this because the Lakers are in danger of being victims of their schedule twice in a row.  Normally, a schedule loss is followed by at least some reprieve, a day off, or perhaps two, before  the next game which allows the team in question to recharge their batteries just a little bit.  But the Lakers have no such luck.  Instead, they get another game the next day, a total of four games in five nights.  Normally, the 4th game in five nights is the schedule loss.  Instead, the Lakers traded a short turnaround for yesterday's game in for a long turnaround (relatively speaking) for tonight's contest.  Will it be enough to avoid back-to-back losses in which the Lakers were at a significant fatigue disadvantage each night?  We'll have our answer in 12 hours.

Well, thank the gods for following up with the Cavs.  Apparently, they took a break from questioning when Kobe Bryant should pass to a big man (instead of a guaranteed highlight dunk) in order balance out a tough stretch of a long road trip with the worst team in the NBA.  They say nothing heals a broken heart like new...umm, yeah...and the Cavs are the ugliest, easiest (team) in the room.

I'm not going to waste your time with stats and rankings on what the Cavs are good or bad at.  They're terrible at everything.  Indicative of their pathetic record.  The only stat you need be aware of is this: 9-46.  If you didn't already know, 26 of those losses were in a row.  If you're wondering, that's a record losing streak for a professional sports team (depending on what you consider the Washington Generals).  They ended that streak Friday night in a win over the Clippers.  He he.  Blake Griffin or no, some things never change, huh?

Since breaking the streak, the Comic Sans have had their asses handed to them by the Wizards.  In Cleveland.  Here's another tidbit for you: Washington was 0-25 on the road prior to Sunday's win in Cleveland.  Oh boy.  On Tuesday, Byron Scott vowed to make defense a commitment again:

Less than a month after rededicating his focus to defense, Scott is again making it an issue. He said after Sunday's loss to the Wizards, he couldn't figure out his players. He said Tuesday that he has the solution.

''The answer is on the defensive end, we've got to continue to get better,'' Scott said. ''So every day, I'm going to work their [butts] off until they continue to do those things.''

Less than a month ago, Scott simplified the defense so the players only had one way to defend a pick-and-roll. He said then that anyone making mistakes would be pulled from games immediately, because there were no longer any excuses.

He said last week he wanted the Cavs to lower their defensive field-goal percentage from 48 percent to 46 percent, which would raise them from the bottom five in the league to the middle of the pack.

Now he is again refocusing the effort on playing aggressive, tenacious defense for 48 minutes.

''I understand what wins in this league and in every major sport and it's on that end of the floor,'' Scott said. ''We have to be committed at that end of the floor every single day. And we're going to work on it every single day until we are.''

That sounds so valiant of Byron. I understand he's working with scraps, and I might be a little more sympathetic if his name wasn't constantly lobbied around as a replacement for Phil Jackson. This current Cavs campaign could not be playing out any worse, and no matter what, coaching isn't helping. This is a guy who could step in to take over the Lakers?

Cavs the Blog:

IT IS FEBRUARY 15th. Every team in the league scoring at will on the Cavs and beating them for a month and a half didn’t trigger this realization? It took an extra loss at home to the Washington Wizards? I suppose I should be happy, because this is what needed to happen a long time ago. We’ll see if players who mail it in on the defensive end actually get held accountable from here on out.

I'm not sure if Byron has a clue on what to do.  If the greatest coach of All-Time is going to be replaced, then it damn well better be with a guy who has an impact.  So far, Scott isn't getting through to his players enough, nor coachng them up to over achieve, no matter the talent situation.  

Those rumors might just be that, rumors, but let's not forget the 55-point beatdown the Lakers gave them on January 11. I couldn't help but feel there was a little extra mustard put on that hot dog. Think about it. Here's the one guy supposedly standing in the way of Brian Shaw's assumption. The team likes Shaw, and are comfortable with the system they've been playing in. Think they want hard-ass Byron coming in with his new "system?" What better way to show Dr. Jerry what the future would look like. Statement made. The Shawfather doesn't mess around.

Tonight shouldn't be as bad though. The Lakers are tired form their Grammys road trip. I don't know how much one day of rest in a hotel room is going to change that, and the Cavs do have some players returned from injury. Not sure how much it'll matter though.

The Cavs are a much healthier team than they were the last time they faced the Lakers. They played that night without Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker, and Williams was playing with an ailing hip.

Parker and Williams are healthy now, although Gibson remains questionable with a quad injury he just can't shake. Gibson didn't play the second half Sunday against the Washington Wizards because of the injury, and Scott acknowledged he might rest Gibson tonight even if he is cleared by the medical staff.

The Cavs' returning players are like putting a better grade of gas in a 15 year old jalopy with 250,000 miles. Technically, it's better for your engine, but it's still a piece of junk. Plus, following back-to-back losses, the Lakers might be looking to shut all the talking heads up heading into All-Star break. Especially since they seemed to gain some momentum during last week's successful stretch. If they lose, I'm not watching another Lakers' game until after the All-Star Game. Oh wait...there aren't any. If they win, we'll all feel just a tad better heading into the break. It's time to get real. Thank the schedule makers for Cleveland.

Let's enjoy some video of that Jan. 11th Karma Loop:



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