LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers continued their frightening start to the season only one week after Halloween, losing to the hot Cleveland Cavaliers 114-100 and dropping to 2-7 overall. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers won their eighth straight game. They maintained their second-place standing in the Eastern Conference thanks to a strong backcourt effort spearheaded by Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, who scored a combined 57 points.
In a postgame interview, Mitchell, who finished with a game-high 33 points and five rebounds, referred to facing James: “When the greatest is on the floor, you just go out there and try to find a way to compete and get a win. We came out there and were just trying to do what we’ve been doing, and fortunately, it was against Bron.”
A Promising Start
Despite losing guard Patrick Beverley before the game due to flu-like symptoms, the Lakers started strong and led by six points after one quarter. Russell Westbrook, a terrific substitute, stood out in the opening 12 minutes, shooting 5-for-6 from the floor and enjoying his new sixth-man position. Meanwhile, he appeared to be having fun again, which he hadn’t done since moving to the City of Angels. Moreover, after converting a smooth and-1, he mocked Cavs players and wore dance shoes.
The home club led by six points at the half, 64-58, and things looked promising against one of the league’s hottest squads. However, the second half would tell a different tale.
This season, the Lakers have only won only one third quarter, and once again, their terrible post-intermission performance caught up with them. Meanwhile, the Lakers were thoroughly outplayed after a 13-4 surge to start the half and a 29-16 quarter-to-quarter advantage for Cleveland over Los Angeles. Moreover, in a run spanning the third and fourth quarters, Cleveland scored 17 unanswered points, virtually ending the game and securing a straightforward victory.
“We just didn’t come out ready (in the second half),” Westbrook said. “We were playing catch-up.”
James the Lone Warrior
James was again attempting to carry the Lakers on his back despite losing for the second time in 19 tries to his former team, scoring 27 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and dishing out four assists. However, the Lakers again appeared toothless on offense, with just Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook showing up. The former ended with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while the latter had 19 points and 10 assists.
Meanwhile, only the Bucks (9-0) have had a better league start than the Cavs, attempting to make the playoffs without James in their lineup for the first time since 1998. The Cavs, on the other hand, appear to be contenders this season.
“They did a great job in the offseason of picking up a big-time player,” James said about his former team.
“They have a really good team and a great coach. A well-balanced team and a bunch of players (who) seem like they just really want to play ball.”
However, the Lakers will once again be left wondering how to maintain pressure after halftime breaks to turn around the early season struggles, even though the future of the Cavaliers appears bright.