March 31, 2015

Partly cloudy

Cavs: Weird night at Quicken, Cleveland suffers one of worst losses

CLEVELAND — It was one of the weirdest games in NBA history. It was also one of the worst losses in Cavaliers history.

The horrible Los Angeles Lakers were down to four completely eligible players for the final 3:32, but hung on to beat the even worse Cavs 119-108 Wednesday in front of 15,205 fans at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Lakers (17-32), who had lost seven straight, 13 of 15 and 19 of 22 and arrived in the wee hours of the morning after playing in Minnesota the previous night, began the evening with just eight healthy players.

With Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash among the wounded, they then lost Nick Young to a twisted knee in the second quarter and Jordan Farmar to a hamstring injury in the second half, leaving them with six players.

Chris Kaman fouled out with 8:29 left in the game and fellow center Robert Sacre picked up his sixth with 3:32 left in the game.

Under NBA rules, Sacre was allowed to stay in the game, but the Lakers were given a technical for his sixth foul and would have gotten another “T” for each subsequent foul he committed, but he did not pick up another.

It got so bad that Nash went in and put on a uniform late in the game just in case he was forced to play.

In the end, it added up to a sixth straight loss for the Cavs (16-33), who have also dropped eight of their last nine.

“The game got away from us in the first quarter,” said Cleveland coach Mike Brown, whose team trailed 36-17 after one. “We came out and couldn’t make a shot. Nor could we get a stop.”

Down as many as 29 in the first half and still trailing by 28 with 3:13 left in the third period, Cleveland got within six with 1:17 left, but did not score again.

With Kyrie Irving (11 points, 5-for-14 field goals) sitting for the last 19:32, the Cavs were already within 10 after a C.J. Miles 3-pointer with 9:39 still left in the game, but the Lakers found a way to hold on.

“It was more about the players on the floor,” Brown said of benching most of his starters in favor of a lineup of Matthew Dellavedova, Dion Waiters, Miles, Anthony Bennett and starter Anderson Varejao. “They were playing hard. If anybody takes a message out of it, then so be it.”

Rookie power forward Ryan Kelly led Los Angeles with a career-high 26 points, while Farmar had 21, with 19 of those coming in the first half.

Wesley Johnson had 15 of his 20 points in the first quarter, while Steve Blake had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists.

Miles led the Cavs, who were being outscored 45-3 from behind the arc late in the third quarter, with 27 points. Twenty-three came in the second half.

Varejao had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Bennett had 14 points and eight boards and Tristan Thompson had 13 points and eight rebounds.

In a battle between two of the worst teams in the NBA at the moment, the Lakers came out like they had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Magic Johnson in uniform, while the Cavs looked like they had Walt Wesley, Rick Roberson and Bobby Washington on the floor.

The first quarter couldn’t have gone more poorly for the Cavs, who played like they were still in Texas, where they concluded a three-game road trip by losing to Houston and Dallas.

Playing as if they were going through a practice shooting drill, the Lakers made their first six 3-point attempts to take a quick 24-13 lead. They extended that to 34-15 late in the period, at which time they were shooting a sizzling .824 from the floor (14-for-17).

Led by 15 points from Johnson, the Lakers finished the quarter at .714 (15-for-21) and owned a 36-17 lead, leading to a chorus of boos from angry Cavs fans.

Cleveland connected at a .paltry 292 clip (7-for-24) in the opening period, but things only got worse for the defenseless Cavs early in the second quarter.

With 8½ minutes to go in the half, Los Angeles was up 52-23 and shooting .750 from the field (21-for-28). That included .750 from behind the arc (9-for-12).

The Cavs immediately went on a 7-0 run to get within 22 and later got as close as 18 in the first half, but found themselves down 70-49 at intermission.

It tied for the most points given up in a half by the Cavs this season. Cleveland also surrendered 70 in the first half to Minnesota on Nov. 13, which led to the infamous team meeting after the game that got very heated.

Lakers starting point guard Farmar, who isn’t exactly known as a great shooter, was 7-for-9 from the field, including 5-for-6 from deep, in the first half.

Starting forwards Johnson (15) and Kelly (13) — Sacre started at center and Blake was at shooting guard — combined for 28 more first-half points on 10-for-16 shooting.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.