Cavs 98, Lakers 95 --First things first, Danny Ferry was not on the trip to Los Angeles. I can only assume he's trying everything in his power to put together a package for Jason Kidd at this moment. I don't think it is likely, but I'll bet he's trying to do something. More to come on that. --So, it's Monday morning and here's the recap from Sunday afternoon. So sorry I am late but I made a rookie mistake with my travel plans. Even though the Cavs are staying in L.A. thru tomorrow, for some reason I flew to Portland from LAX last night. Which is stupid for many, many reasons not to mention it is 70 in L.A. and 35 here. The Cavs players had begged to stay in Miami last weekend but Mike Brown didn't let them come down until Sunday so the tradeoff was an extra day in L.A. and I didn't get the message in time. I didn't get to Portland until midnight and was too tired to blog. Sorry! --Anyway, I filed this story for ESPN.com from the rental car bus last night. A good look, I think, at how LeBron has been taking it to Kobe for several years now. --Didn't help with my tight schedule that the game took forever and then LeBron refused to talk to the media until he got his suit on. Finally, I yelled into the locker room that all the cameras had left and he came out. --The Cavs got a terrible break losing Varejao and I suspect he'll be out for awhile. I talked with some people close to him and they told me it was a grade-2 sprain, which means a partial tear of a ligament, which means a couple weeks. To lose two rotation players in four days in terrible to any team. --One of the great moments was watching the coaching huddle after Zydrunas Ilgauskas fouled out. You could see Mike Brown and his assistants talking about who to put in. They considered Donyell Marshall, who will now be getting some time, and decided to go with Ira Newble. Ira, by the way, was great down the stretch. The man started the game at shooting guard and finished at power forward. He held down the fort, got a couple of rebounds, and sent a little message with his dunk. --Larry Hughes has played two excellent games in a row. His jumpers have been falling, which was bound to happen at some point, but much more important his defense in L.A. was simply off the charts. He made at least five great defensive plays in the fourth quarter including taking a charge on Kobe with a minute left and his two-man defense with LeBron on the final play. I'd suggest calling the Nets with this information. --LeBron is flat cold-blooded in the fourth quarters this season. He was a master at both ends. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but do you hear anyone complaining about his clutch play of late? Me either.
Pregame Starting lineups
Cavs: Larry Hughes, Ira Newble, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown
Officials: Ed Malloy, Tony Brothers, Mike Callahan
--Early game here in L.A., but since the Cavs are still on East Coast time it might not affect them as much. But I must say LeBron seemed a little groggy before the game. --I expect Kobe to be looking for some payback. First off the Lakers are coming off losses in San Antonio and Dallas and are about to leave on a nine-game road trip. So they really need this win. Second, Kobe was a little hurt last month in Cleveland and didn't play that well down the stretch and may be in the mood to settle the score. LeBron has gotten the better of him the last few times out. --Every time I watch the Lakers on TV, it seems like Lamar Odom can't make a shot. But against the Cavs he seems to hit everything. Gooden has never been able to handle him, we'll see if that continues today. --Who says LeBron loves the glitz and glamour? He pulled out a new quote I'd never heard from him before when ask about whether or not he's on the bucket list when Nicholson or others sit courtside here. He said: "All I care about is if there's a floor, two baskets and one ball, I don't care who is sitting courtside." Since he almost always does care, I think this is bull, but it sounds like this could be in the cliche rotation soon. --Last time the Cavs were at the Staples Center for the Clippers in November, OJ Mayo was hanging out outside the Cavs locker room waiting to chat with LeBron. I guess he'd gotten some tickets from Mike Dunleavy, at least that is what I remember hearing. Since OJ has since been slapped by the high and mighty NCAA for getting free tickets and access after Carmelo Anthony gave him two tix for a Laker game last week, I guess he won't be here today. But I remember after that game when Mike Brown was done talking to the media, he walked over and shook Mayo's hand. As he was going back into the locker room I complimented Mike on being highly aware of his surroundings. He just winked at me.
Halftime -- Cavs 49, Lakers 40
--Quick survey: Was there more time spent playing or more time during timeouts in the first half? This is going to be a night game. --So the Lakers say roofers clothes that were wet and put down on a catwalk to dry was the source of the leak. So there's leaks in the roof and roofers working on the leaks but the water didn't actually come from a leaky roof? Uh, OK, anyone else smell something? --In the first quarter the Cavs allowed dribble penetration and it led to all sorts of issues defensively as the Lakers shot 63 percent. In the second they kept the Lakers, save for Kobe, out of the lane and the Lakers shot 30 percent. That seems like it will be a crux. --LeBron is really pushing the ball and attacking the glass. When he does, the NBA is his oyster. Kobe is a tremendous scorer but he still relies on having to make jumpers a lot. LeBron can control the game with his size and speed and therein lies the difference. Kobe may have a different mental makeup at this point and therefore he's got certain advantages, but nobody in the NBA has LeBron's size and skill and you are seeing that today. --By the way, every time LeBron goes to the basket he looks over to the corner floor seats and gestures to buddy Maverick Carter and Kanye West. Yeah, he doesn't know who is sitting courtside at all.
Postgame Stars LeBron, 41 points, nine rebounds Z, 16 points, 11 rebounds Hughes, 16 points Kobe, 33 points, 12 rebounds