Nothing helps boost a team’s confidence like a matchup against one of the worst squads in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers played host to the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night, and a 113-93 victory finally broke a six-game losing streak that had plagued them since the New Year. This game was in L.A.’s control from the beginning, and the team never gave up the lead after stealing all momentum in the opening period.
Energy and efficiency is what gave the Lakers the edge early. They were passing the ball well, they were swarming on defense, and they were taking advantage down low with Dwight Howard back in the lineup. With four-and-a-half minutes to go in the first, Los Angeles had 23 points, but they would catch fire and finish the quarter with a 37-20 lead.
The Lakers began the second with four bench players and Earl Clark on the court. Momentum evened out to open the period, and it would eventually shift in the Cavs' favor. With L.A. turning over the ball, Cleveland effectively turned those opportunities into transition buckets.
Los Angeles took a 12-point lead with them into halftime, but lackadaisical play made fans uneasy. Luckily for the Lakers and their home crowd, the starters did their damage yet again in the third, and they were able to take an 86-69 lead into the final 12 minutes.
The final period was much of the same. Cleveland tried to get back in it with energy, but that energy never quite translated into production. The Lakers made this their night early, and the Cavs were never able to climb their way back in it.
Many are going to claim that this win comes with an asterisk. The Lakers won a game against a struggling opponent, and few are going to believe they’re ready to compete with the top teams out West just yet.
But if this win gives the Lakers the confidence they need to turn things around with half a season to go, that’s nothing but good news for fans in L.A.