The red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers carry a seven-game winning streak into Sunday afternoon’s date with the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Cleveland opened its five-game road swing on Friday by cruising past the Detroit Pistons, 112-88.
On a night when standout guards Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell sat with injuries, interior play set the tone for the Cavaliers in the lopsided win. Jarrett Allen led all scorers with 23 points and Kevin Love came off the bench for a 21-point, 10-assist performance, finishing two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
“That’s one of the things we have been talking about is no matter who is on the floor, we need to live up to our standards,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “I thought our guys took that to heart.”
Cleveland has not lost since the Oct. 19 season opener at Toronto. The Cavs continued a trend by holding Detroit to 37.3 percent shooting from the field, lowering their opponents’ season mark to 44.2 percent.
The Cavaliers are limiting opponents to 104.4 points per game thanks in part to the rim protection of Allen and Evan Mobley, who are averaging 1.3 and 1.9 blocks per game, respectively, and Garland’s 2.5 steals per game.
Mobley — a southern California native who played his college ball at USC, just a few miles away from Crypto.com Arena — returns to Los Angeles fresh off an 11-point, eight-rebound, eight-block effort.
Mobley will again look to help set the defensive tone in Cleveland’s back-to-back set in L.A., with Sunday’s game against the Lakers followed by a Monday night matchup with the Clippers.
The Lakers come into Sunday’s matinee after seeing their brief winning streak snapped with a 130-116 loss Friday to Utah.
Los Angeles opened the season with five straight losses before scratching out consecutive victories against New Orleans and Denver. Friday’s defeat marked a significant backslide, as the Lakers gave up a season-high point total.
“It was the first game I felt like we weren’t there defensively,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said in his postgame press conference.
The Lakers’ early struggles have been more on the offensive end. Los Angeles enters Sunday’s matchup shooting a paltry 43.8 percent from the floor.
The Lakers’ 28.3 percent shooting from 3-point range was the league’s worst mark through Friday’s games.
Four-time Most Valuable Player LeBron James is enduring an offensive lull in the early going of his 20th NBA season. His scoring average of 24.0 points per game and field-goal percentage of 43.1 are both personal lows since his rookie season with Cleveland in 2003-04, and he is shooting just 20.7 percent from 3-point range on more than seven attempts per game.
James and the Lakers aim to find their form against the organization James played with for 11 seasons and led to its only championship in 2016. Los Angeles has not lost to Cleveland with James in the lineup since the perennial All-Star’s arrival in 2018-19.
Whether the Cavaliers will have Garland or Mitchell in Sunday’s lineup was not certain as of Saturday.
–Field Level Media