Lakers try again to stop slide, host Cavs
The Los Angeles Lakers came up short through an NBA gauntlet of contenders and are still winless in the New Year.
The Lakers look to snap a season-worst six-game losing streak Sunday versus the Cleveland Cavaliers in the continuation of a four-game homestand.
Los Angeles has dropped games to the Sixers, Clippers, Nuggets, Rockets, Spurs and most recently the Thunder, and opened the homestand Friday with a 116-101 loss to Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 42 points to lead the visitors, while Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points. Bryant shot under 43 percent for the fourth straight game, making 8-of-23 shots.
"We played hard the whole game, but they were just better," Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said of OKC. "They were just longer, faster, better team-wise and we crumbled away."
Antawn Jamison chipped in 19 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles, which has lost six straight for the first time since a seven-game slide from March 2-15, 2007. L.A. trailed by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter and has posted losing streaks of six or more games 19 times in franchise history.
The Lakers were without big men Dwight Howard (shoulder), Jordan Hill (hip) and Pau Gasol (concussion). Gasol has missed three straight games and could miss Sunday's game. Howard is projected be out one to two weeks and Hill is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Los Angeles has lost three in a row at home and is 10-9 as the host. It will also welcome Milwaukee and Miami to Hollywood. In other team news, Bryant passed Alex English for eighth on the all-time field goals made list. Former Rockets great Hakeem Olajuwon is next on the list.
Cleveland opened a five-game road trip with Friday's 98-91 loss at Denver.
The Cavaliers were outscored, 9-2, in the final two minutes and lost for the sixth time in eight tries. Kyrie Irving had a game-high 28 points on 11-of-26 shooting and entered the game averaging 27.8 points and 5.5 assists in his last four contests. Irving attempted a career-high 26 shots.
"We came out nonchalant in the third quarter, they made a push and that was the difference in the game," Irving said.
Cleveland led 30-23 after one quarter and 56-45 at halftime. Denver outscored Cleveland, 58-42, in the paint.
Rookie Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, for the Cavaliers, who are 5-17 as the guest and are scheduled to visit Sacramento, Portland and Utah on the western junket. Waiters is averaging 14.5 ppg this month and Tyler Zeller has started each of the past 12 games, posting 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in that span.
The Cavs will try to sweep their season series with the Lakers Sunday for the first time since the 2009-10 season. In a 100-94 victory at Quicken Loans Arena on Dec. 11, Irving scored 28 points and Bryant countered with a game- high 42 points on 16-of-28 shooting. Cleveland has won four of the past six meetings between the teams, but has lost 10 of its last 13 at the Lakers.