Life must be easy for Lamar Odom: put on a cape in Cleveland and turn into Superman. The Lakers forward certainly looked like that for much of the game against the Cavaliers, scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.
Odom created matchup problems that were exacerbated by the absence of Sasha Pavlovic, who left the game with a sprained ankle in the first quarter. With LeBron James on Kobe Bryant, he couldn't switch and that left a plethora of people trying to guard Odom.
It didn't help that others were, including Lakers center Pau Gasol, were getting easy points in the paint. Ultimately they won this one. The Cavs will have much to ponder between now and the playoffs.
At the half: Cavs 61, Lakers 51
Given the Lakers lead in almost every statistical category except one, they should be up. But the Cavs lead shot 8-of-12 from three-point territory. To give them an advantage.
Lamar Odom has 11 poitns for the Lakers at half and most of them have come on easy buckets. If they do not find a way to seal that off, and the paint in general, they could find themselves in trouble the second half.
Game: Cavaliers (39-9) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (40-9)
Broadcast: TV: WEWS (Channel 5) WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Sasha Pavlovic (G); Mo Williams (G). Lakers: Luke Walton (F); LaMar Odom (F); Pau Gasol (C); Kobe Bryant (G); Derek Fisher (G).
Injured-inactives: Cavs: Eric Snow (knee); Delonte West (wrist). Lakers: Andrew Bynum (knee)
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won four in a row and have a 23-game home winning streak on the line. The Lakers have won five in a row.
What to watch:
- Is Z the difference? The Cavaliers faced the Lakers without their big man the first time out. The Lakers were able to clog up the middle and contain the cavs offense, which often looked as if it were back in let's-see-what-LeBron-does mode. Z's presence presents a whole set of different problems for L.A. First they lost Andrew Bynum sending Paul Gasol back to center. But he will have to come out of the paint to actually guard Ilgauskas or the Lakers may get burned by his outside shooting. Consequently, that should free up room in the paint.
- Sasha Pavlovic will start out on Kobe Bryant, but I'd be shocked if it lasted very long. Pavlovic is one of those players who has to make up his mind whether he wants to play defense. He's more athletic which is a reason he drew the assignment. But don't expect him to be on Bryant all afternoon. Eventually LeBron James will be on the Lakers' prolific scorer.
- Is it all that it's hyped up to be? What a difference a couple of weeks makes. Yes, the first game got the game-of-the-year treatment, but given how late it is in the season, this one even feels different. Is it a statement game? It might be given what happened in the past week with Mo Williams being snubbed a second time for the All-Star Game and LeBron James having a triple-double taken away when the league disallowed a rebound.
From the coach's office:
Mike Brown on Phil Jackson's comments regarding LeBron James and the Cavs having an advantage because James gets all the calls a home:
I guess you could read Coach Jackson’s comments that say our record is what it is because of LeBron gets all that calls. I guess that’s one opinion that you can kind of take and run with and figure out why our record is what it is. Maybe others in the league think the same way too.Phil Jackson on missing Bynum:
We played with this team to the Finals last year, so we have a lot of experience with this group of guys. From the locker room:From the locker room:
Kobe Bryant on playing with LeBron James at the Olympics:
For once for us to be able to get together and communicate without hoopla…It was good.
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