Los Angeles Lakers

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for LA

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Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014

The Cleveland Cavaliers (14-24) bombarded the Los Angeles Lakers (14-24) with a barrage of three-pointers on the way to a 120-118 win at the Staples Center on Tuesday night.

The Cavs finished 13-of-17 from long range, holding off a late rally and exploiting poor rotations and generally lazy defense on the perimeter by the Lakers.

Luol Deng led the way for Cleveland with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting (including 5-of-5 from three-point range).

Jodie Meeks and Nick Young did their best to try and keep pace with the hot shooting Cavs, but their 54 combined points ultimately weren't enough to make up for the pitiful team defense.

 

Key Player Grades

 

Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers, Power Forward/Center

Jan 14, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) fouls Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) in the second half of the game at Staples Center. Cleveland Cavaliers won 120-118. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Offensively, Pau Gasol was excellent on Tuesday, going 9-of-13 from the field for 20 points. But as good as he was on that end, it didn't make up for what he surrendered on the other.

Cleveland's Anderson Varejao has never been known as an offensive juggernaut, and yet Gasol gave up 18 points to him.

And what might be even worse, he did nothing to keep Varejao off the boards. The Cavs' big man grabbed 18 rebounds, seven of which were offensive. 

Grade: C

 

Kendall Marshall, Los Angeles Lakers, Point Guard

Jan 14, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni talks to point guard Kendall Marshall (12) and shooting guard Jodie Meeks (20) in the second half of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center. Cleveland Cava
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Obviously, playing in D'Antoni's system inflates the numbers of most point guards, but that shouldn't discount the incredible playmaking ability and willingness to pass of Kendall Marshall.

After posting 32 assists in his previous two home games as a Laker, Marshall dished out 16 on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.

He has incredible vision, always looking up the floor in transition and surveying it in its entirety in half-court situations. If Marshall has the ball and a teammate is open, chances are he'll find that player.

In addition to the passing, he also scored 10 points and played decent defense on Kyrie Irving, who was held to 13 points and four assists.

Grade: A-

 

Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers, Small Forward

It won't be hard to find the theme of this report card. Like Gasol, Wesley Johnson was great on the offensive end but not on the one that they say wins you championships.

His 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting was great, but Johnson spent much of his 38 minutes defending Deng and was unable to do much of anything to slow him down.

Grade: C

 

Jodie Meeks, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard

Jodie Meeks has definitely been one of the bright spots in a generally dreadful season for the Lakers. As has been the case during a few games this season, Meeks' shooting helped keep L.A. in the game but ultimately couldn't make up for the lack of defense.

Tuesday, he went 6-of-10 from three-point range on the way to 26 points and may have had the best shot of the night with this doozy from behind the backboard. 

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Meeks' perimeter defense was part of the problem in giving up 13 threes to the opposition. Like every other wing on the team, he struggled to rotate in time and close out on shooters.

Grade: B+

 

Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers, Center

He may have started at center, but Robert Sacre really didn't play enough to make an impact on either end of the floor on Tuesday.

In 11 minutes, he went 2-of-2 from the field for four points.

Grade: C

 

Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Jan 14, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) looks on as Los Angeles Lakers small forward Nick Young (0) goes for a last second shot in the fourth quarter of the game at Staples Center. Cleveland Cavaliers won 120-1
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

To cap off what may have been his best game of the season, Nick Young led a late surge that almost won the game for the Lakers in the fourth quarter.

He scored nine of his 28 points in the final frame but missed a decent look at a three with under 20 seconds left that would have tied the game. L.A. had to foul, and Cleveland hit just enough free throws down the stretch to secure the win.

On top of the 28 points, Young showed a new unselfish side as he dished out a season-high six assists.

But again, the problem with the Lakers is something all the players share, as Young was as ineffective defensively as anyone.

Grade: B+

 

Bench, Los Angeles Lakers

In addition to Young, three other players (Ryan Kelly, Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill) got minutes off L.A.'s bench. They combined to go 6-of-15 from the field for 13 points.

Kaman and Hill were both decent. They shot 50 percent together and grabbed nine rebounds. But Kelly struggled in his 12 minutes, missing all four of his three-point attempts.

With all the injuries the Lakers have suffered this season, it's little wonder they're struggling with lack of depth.

Grade: C

 

What's Next?

Following Tuesday's loss, the Lakers will now begin their annual Grammy Road Trip with a 9 p.m. ET contest against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

L.A. is already 0-2 against the younger, more athletic Suns.

 

For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.

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