LA Lakers close road trip at Cleveland

By: Willie Bee | Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Lakers have dropped two straight after starting 4-0 on their road trip.

If you were going handpick a team to face and try to end a long road trip on a winning note, chances are it would be the Cleveland Cavaliers. As luck would have it, that's just the team the Los Angeles Lakers will be up against on Wednesday when their seven-game trek ends.

Cleveland and Los Angeles tip the contest at 4:30 p.m. (PT) with local coverage on Fox Sports Ohio and back in LA on KCAL-TV.

The Lakers started their trip in great form, winning the first four games of their Grammy-forced exile, a stretch highlighted by a 92-86 win in Boston last Thursday.  But the joyride came to a screeching halt on Sunday when Orlando belted LA, 89-75.  That loss was followed up by Monday's defeat in Charlotte, pushing the Lakers into this match on a two-game skid.

Five-point chalk on Monday, Los Angeles (38-18 straight up, 25-31 against the spread) couldn't find the bucket for a second consecutive game, especially from three-point range where the Lakers made just three of their 19 heaves.  Kobe Bryant, who missed the morning shootaround due to flu-like symptoms, led Los Angeles with 20 points, but came up empty on 12 of his 20 shots and committed five of the team's 12 turnovers.

While Los Angeles had trouble scoring, Charlotte did not against a porous Lakers defense.  The Bobcats hit over 51 percent from the field with four players reaching double figures, including Gerald Henderson's 18 points in 29 minutes off the bench.

The 20-point margin at game's end marked the Lakers' biggest defeat this season. They could easily turn that around, and then some, against a Cavs team they routed earlier this season by 55.

Cleveland (9-46 SU, 20-32-3 ATS) enters off Sunday's 115-110 home loss to the Washington Wizards who were 2½-point pups.  The game wasn't as close as the final 15-point gap might indicate.  One game after the Cavaliers stopped their NBA-record 26-game losing streak, Washington ended its 25-game losing stretch on the road that dated to April 2010.

Nick Young scored 31 for the Wizards on 14-of-21 shooting from the field; John Wall contributed 19 points and 14 assists.

The Lakers rocked Cleveland on Jan. 11 at Staples Center, 112-57, LA's largest margin of victory in 39 years.  Phil Jackson's squad peppered the Cavs with 46 field goals, 10 from three-point land, while suffocating Cleveland on defense, limiting Flip Saunders' team to just 23 field goals (77 attempts) and 1-for-14 from beyond the arc.

The last seven games in Cleveland have all topped the number, with the Lakers 4-2 'under' so far on their road trip.  January's game between the two clubs closed at 197½, and easily stayed 'under' thanks to Cleveland's paltry 57 points.

Los Angeles isn't reporting any injuries other than possible lingering effects from Bryant's Monday illness.  The Cavaliers are listing Leon Powe (knee) as probable for Wednesday's contest, with Daniel Gibson questionable after reinjuring his left quad in Sunday's loss to Washington.

The Lakers will open their post-All Star schedule at home next Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks, that game followed with a trip up to Portland the following evening.  Cleveland will enjoy a full week off after this contest, its next game at home on Feb. 23 versus the Houston Rockets.

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