Not that many expected a close game between these two teams, but Kyrie Irving came out of the locker room looking like the Human Torch, hitting 5 of his first 6 shots to push the Cavaliers out to a 32-28 lead after on frame. The Cavaliers as a team outshot the Lakers 54.2% to 40% in the first quarter, but LA kept things close behind tireless work on the offensive boards, grabbing 8 in the period to Cleveland's 4.
The Cavaliers started to pull further away in the second quarter before a Tarik Black led 7-2 run pulled them back within 3. Black (8 points, 4-7 shooting, and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes) continued to demonstrate his potential to stick in the league as an energy big, but it was not enough to stop Kevin Love to get going, hitting two threes in succession to push Cleveland's lead to 56-41 with 2:47 left in the half. That 15 point margin would ultimately be the same as the end of the half, with the Lakers trailing 64-49. Kevin Love knocked down 5-6 threes and 8-13 first half shots overall in a possible free agency audition. Possibly most disconcerting for any hoping that Los Angeles could stay in this game was the fact that Lebron James only took 6 shots in the first half (making 3 of them).
James woke up in the third quarter, scoring 13 points and running roughshod on the Lakers to sustain the Cavaliers lead despite some nice plays by Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson continues to be the only reason to watch this miserable squad, and his development is moving along nicely, scoring a career high 20 points on 6-14 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
Strong play from a second round rookie was not nearly enough to prevent Cleveland's big three from running roughshod on a Lakers defense that looked mostly disinterested for most of the afternoon, even being compared by ESPN analyst Jalen Rose to the Washington Generals at halftime. All Kevin Love needed to bust out of his slump was to play the Lakers, dropping a season high 32 points (7-8 on three pointers), LeBron James (22 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists with 6 turnovers) messed around and nearly got a triple-double, and Kyrie Irving (28 points, 10 assists) was the latest in a long line of point guards to eviscerate the purple and gold to help the Cavaliers win in a laugher. The Lakers next move on to host the imploding Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.