We are almost midway through February, and the Los Angeles Lakers are still searching for their first road victory of 2015, as they take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This will be the final road game of the Grammy trip for the Lakers, and it comes against a tough opponent. The Cavaliers have been on a roll since James’ return from a knee and back injury, winning 12 out the last 13 games.
In fact, the Cavaliers most recently had a 12-game winning streak that was snapped Friday night by the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis. James put up 25 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block in that game but had seven turnovers. Also, he injured his wrist late in the third quarter but was able to play through it. However, he is hopeful to play in this one.
Kyrie Irving, who has been on a scoring tear of late, led the Cavaliers with 29 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Unfortunately, Kevin Love continues to be inconsistent and inefficient, scoring just five points on 2 of 8 shooting on Friday.
The Lakers are coming off back-to-back overtime games played Wednesday night in Milwaukee and Friday night in Orlando, losing both games. In Orlando, Ryan Kelly came alive and played his best game of the year, scoring a season-high 20 points. He will once again have the tough assignment of defending LeBron James like he did earlier in the year when these two teams faced off in Los Angeles.
In that first meeting in January, Kobe Bryant played and had a miraculous 17-assist performance which was a career-high for him. Though, it was not enough as LeBron James’ 36 points, five assists, and four rebounds on 12 of 23 shooting carried Cleveland to a 109-102 victory.
Byron Scott chose to play Kelly at the 3 spot in that game, and he had difficulties containing James as Kelly found himself in foul trouble. The same could very well happen in Sunday’s matchup. Since Kelly is naturally a power forward who is currently starting at the 3 spot, he is having a hard time staying in front of quicker and more athletic and agile small forwards. Perhaps Wesley Johnson could see more minutes in this game due to matchup purposes.
With Los Angeles’ loss in Orlando, they are now on a nine-game road losing streak, one more and they will have tied their franchise-record 10-game road losing streak. The Lakers come in to the Quicken Loans Arena with a 6-20 away record.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have piled up an eight-game home winning streak, with their last loss coming on January 7th to the Houston Rockets, as they own a 19-9 home record.
Before their 103-99 loss to the Pacers, the Cavaliers also had a streak of holding opponents below 100 points, which was at 10. Their defense has been their backbone since James’ return from injuries, and it has paid dividends.
The game tips off at 3:30 pm Eastern Standard Time.