Game 40: Cavs at Lakers
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: TNT, Fox Sports Ohio
1. This was an important win for so many reasons. The Cavs had almost forgotten how to win games. They hadn't won a game in 13 days - since Jan. 2 in Charlotte. They snapped a six-game losing streak.
2. This was needed to quiet all the noise about Coach David Blatt's job. A loss to the 12-28 Lakers could have contributed to his demise. He still could be on thin ice. Here's how I think it will play out: He'll be given the chance to get all his players back, play for a couple weeks and see how they gel on the court. If by some chance they flop, then we could see a change. But with all their players available, I think they'll make a little run and get things together.
3. The most important player back on the court, of course, is No. 23. LeBron James was fantastic again for the Cavs with 36 points, five rebounds and five assists. In two games back from his two-week layoff, he's averaging 34.5 points. If you haven't noticed, he's pretty good. He didn't even push his coach last night.
4. Something to keep your eye on is power forward Kevin Love's back spasms. He sat out part of the third quarter with the malady. He did return and play in the fourth, something he never got a chance to do in the previous game in Phoenix. Blatt had just put his foot in his mouth, saying Love "isn't a max player, yet." He was trying to say that Love didn't have a max contract yet from the Cavs. But it got twisted by the media to wonder if Love was a max player. He tried to soothe over his faux pas the next day. Then, he didn't play Love in the fourth quarter against the Suns. There's some weird stuff going on here. Love ended with 17 points and seven rebounds in 37 minutes.
5. The Cavs are hoping the euphoria of beating the Lakers will help them against the Clippers on Friday. It probably won't. I can see visions of Blake Griffin taking lob after lob from Chris Paul for dunk after dunk in that game. The Love vs. Griffin matchup frightens me.
6. Lakers coach Byron Scott, who spent three seasons with the Cavs, really wanted to stick it to his former team tonight. He became coach in Cleveland in the summer of 2010 before anyone knew James was going to Miami. Scott's three-year tenure was one of the worst years in franchise history. But I have to tell you, it was great to get to know the guy. I like him a lot.
7. Coming into the contest, the center matchup looked to be troubling for the Cavs. Lakers center Jordan Hill was so much quicker than newcomer Timofey Mozgov. Hill totally outplayed the big Russian,but it wasn't because of his athletic gifts. He was deadly with his jump shot. He outscored Mozgov, 20-4, even though the Cavs big man outrebounded him, 10-6.
9. Former Cavs power forward Carlos Boozer helped the Lakers bench outscore its Cleveland counterpart, 39-16. Incidentally, I like the minutes Shawn Marion is giving the Cavs off the bench. He had five points and defended Kobe Bryant for part of the game. Tristan Thompson was a beast on the boards with a game-high 11 rebounds.
10. Bryant dished out a career-high 16 assists. The Cavs had just 14 as a team.
UP NEXT: at Los Angeles Clippers, Staples Center, 10:30 p.m. Friday
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Jordan Hill (6-10, 245)
Lakers - G Steve Nash, F Julius Randle