Lakers handle Cavaliers to extend undefeated streak against teams with losing records

Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't the most meaningful shot of the night, but in some ways it was. Dwight Howard hit a three-pointer and the Staples Center crowd erupted in euphoria. He left the game not long after that -- what more could he do?

Howard finished with a season high 21 points and 15 rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers' 128-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The win ensured the Lakers continued their undefeated streak against teams with losing records. They have now improved to 33-7, while the Cavaliers fell to 12-28.

LeBron James scored 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting with eight assists and the game was well in hand against his former team.

Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Alex Caruso and Howard each scored in double figures.

The Lakers got some bad news heading into the game. Rajon Rondo was given an MRI on Monday that revealed a nondisplaced volar plate avulsion fracture on his right ring finger. The injury is sometimes referred to as a jammed finger. Last year, Rondo had two surgeries on his right hand, one of which was on his right ring finger.

Anthony Davis also missed Monday's game, making it the third consecutive game he'd missed after suffering a bruised buttocks against the New York Knicks on Jan. 7.


The Lakers played in Dallas on Friday and Oklahoma City on Saturday, winning both games despite not having Davis for either. The next day, Davis and Rondo were among a group of players who went to Green Bay for their playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Davis, though a Chicago native, is a longtime Packers fan.

"They mentioned it to Rob (Pelinka), Rob mentioned it to me and it's an off day and it's something that we endorse," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of their trip. Vogel also said the Lakers' medical team did not take issue with the players attending the game.

It was a more complete starting lineup than the Lakers had against the Thunder on Saturday, when Davis, LeBron James and Danny Green missed the game. On Monday against Cleveland, the Lakers had all their regular starters except Davis, for whom Kyle Kuzma started.

They faced an overmatched but spunky Cavaliers team that was coming off a win over the Denver Nuggets.


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