Cleveland Cavaliers vs. LA Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Cleveland

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14: Luol Deng #9 and Anderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate their team's victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Behind an incredible display of three-point shooting, the Cleveland Cavaliers (14-24) held off a late rally against the Los Angeles Lakers (14-24) and secured a 120-118 victory at the Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Luol Deng went 5-of-5 from downtown as part of a 13-of-17 effort from the Cavs. They looked eager and proved able to exploit the typically loose perimeter defense of the Lakers.

Deng led six Cavs in double figures with 27 points.

Coach Mike Brown was happy with the win, as he deflected questions about his being fired by the Lakers after five games last season, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:

For the Lakers, Jodie Meeks and Nick Young combined for 54 points, but their hot shooting wasn't enough to make up for the poor defense on the perimeter.


Key Player Grades

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers, Point Guard

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against Jodie Meeks #20 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Noah Graham/Getty Images

In a battle of Duke vs. North Carolina point guards, Kyrie Irving was pretty handily outplayed by the Lakers' Kendall Marshall.

Irving allowed the second-year guard to pretty much get wherever he wanted on the floor, as Marshall finished with 16 assists and 10 points.

Irving also had a difficult time scoring, as Marshall drew enough fouls to force Cleveland's point guard to the bench a couple of times.

He still managed to be on the floor for 30 minutes and scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting while dishing out four assists.

Grade: C


Luol Deng, Cleveland Cavaliers, Small Forward

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14: Luol Deng #9 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dow
Noah Graham/Getty Images

Deng was the key to a Cleveland victory in the best game of his very young career as a Cavalier. He got to his 27 points on just 15 shots and also grabbed five rebounds.

He played so well at Staples that some bloggers couldn't help but wonder about his potential to become a Laker when he hits free agency this summer:

Grade: A


Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers, Power Forward

He was pretty inefficient as a scorer, but Tristan Thompson helped the Cavaliers dominate the boards Tuesday. He went 6-of-15 from the field and finished the game with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

He also hit a big free throw down the stretch to help the Cavaliers secure what ended up being a pretty tight contest.

Grade: B


Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers, Center

As good as Deng was on Tuesday night, Anderson Varejao may have been equally as dominant. He scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, grabbed 18 rebounds and handed out a team-high six assists.

It was a complete game for Varejao, as he made Pau Gasol look out of his league on Cleveland's end of the floor.

He did struggle to defend Gasol on the other end, as the Lakers big man also notched 18 points. But Varejao's dominance on both backboards (he had seven offensive rebounds) made up for that.

Grade: A


C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers, Shooting Guard

C.J. Miles only played 15 minutes, as coach Mike Brown opted to go with Dion Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova at shooting guard for most of the game.

He finished with just five points on 2-of-6 shooting and was a complete non-factor in his short stints trying to defend Jodie Meeks (who finished with 26 points).

Grade: D+


Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers, Shooting Guard

Jan 14, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters (3), center Anderson Varejao (17),  small forward Luol Deng (9) and point guard Kyrie Irving (2) walk off the court in the fourth quarter of the game against the Los Angel
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Waiters played the most minutes of any Cav off the bench, and though he struggled from the field (4-of-11), he still managed to score an efficient 17 points because of his ability to get to the free-throw line.

He made 7-of-8 from there and also knocked down both of his three-point attempts.

Grade: B+


Bench, Cleveland Cavaliers

Waiters was one of three combo guards who played the bulk of the reserve minutes for Cleveland Tuesday. Dellavedova and Jarrett Jack were the other two.

The former played very well, scoring 11 points while shooting 3-of-5 from three-point range and providing the most consistent defense of any of Cleveland's perimeter players.

Jack struggled, going 1-of-5 from the field for just four points. He did make up for that to an extent with five assists.

The lone big man off the bench was Tyler Zeller, who went for eight points and four rebounds in 17 minutes of action.

Grade: B


What's Next?

After defeating the Lakers, the Cavaliers will hit the road to play the Portland Trail Blazers at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday night.

The first meeting between the two wound up as a 119-116 victory for Portland.


For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.