If blow-out losses to the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats made fans of the Los Angeles Lakers queasy, Wednesday's 104-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers must have resulted in many stomachs' instant revolution. The result is revolting for the Lakers, who enter the All-Star break in some sort of sour mood. The Cavaliers, who lost by 55 points when they visited the Lakers in January, in the middle of that 26-game losing streak, let Kobe Bryant shoot the champs out of the game and re-exposed L.A.'s real problems at point guard.
Bryant shot 8-24. He hit just 5-16 shots in the second half as the Lakers tried to make up a five-points halftime deficit. Meanwhile, the Cavs' Ramon Sessions, an offseason trade pick-up from the Wolves, ripped off 32 points in quick relief of Mo Williams (who played just three minutes in his return to the starting line-up). Sessions earned 14 free throws and shot 9-16 from the floor, just abusing Derek Fisher and Steve Blake.
Andrew Bynum was atrocious (2-12 from the floor), but Pau Gasol fought. The Spaniard finished with 30 points and 20 rebounds in defeat, but most of the scoring came in the first half. Gasol took 12 field goals and eight free throws in the first half, and just four field goals and six free throws in the second half. That's criminal, especially against a centerless team.
J.J. Hickson manned up with nine offensive rebounds to be effective despite a poor shooting night. The Cavs' hero, though, was Christian Eyenga -- dubbed by Cleveland blogs as Skyenga. The Congolese forward blew up Kobe on the left baseline; Gasol's help was a bit late, and the All-Star paid the price.
Kobe immediately blames the help defense there; heck, even before Eyenga takes off Bryant looks mad. In fairness to the help defenders, perhaps they didn't expect Christian Eyenga to so easily blow by a guy who always happens to show up on the league's All-Defense teams.
Kobe and the Lakers now get to go to L.A. to play host to the entire league for the weekend. Fun!