Skid over, Cavs tackle tough task at Portland
The Cleveland Cavaliers exorcised some demons Sunday in Los Angeles, knocking off the LeBron James-less Lakers 101-95 to snap a 12-game losing streak.
Now the Cavaliers -- who own the worst record in the NBA at 9-35 -- have to face the remaining three opponents on a six-game road trip, beginning Wednesday night at Portland.
Cleveland will move on after that to play at Utah and Denver.
"For us, it doesn't get any easier," Cleveland center Tristan Thompson said after collecting 15 points and 14 rebounds in the win over the Lakers. "If you look at the schedule on this road trip, this is probably the closest game to being in our favor. So I'm glad we got it."
The Cavaliers got balanced scoring in L.A., with all five starters in double figures, led by forward Cedi Osman with 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. Guard Alec Burks contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds, swingman Rodney Hood fought off a sore Achilles heel to score 18 points, and rookie guard Collin Sexton came through with 17 points.
"It felt good to get off the streak," Cleveland coach Larry Drew said. "Any time you go through a stretch like that, it can be a little tough on you. I know it was for the players, physically and mentally.
"I just want to see our guys grow. I want to see growth every game we play. We're not going to play well every game; we're not going to shoot the ball well every game. But from a mistake standpoint, I would like to see us grow from where we were making the same mistake over again."
Cleveland forward Kevin Love, a Portland native, had hoped to make his return from toe surgery in time to play in his hometown. But Love, who has missed the entire season, has only recently been cleared for "select basketball activities," meaning he is unlikely to come back in the near future.
Portland (26-19) is coming off a two-game road trip in which it dropped important games at Denver and Sacramento.
The Blazers were not happy with the way they played down the stretch in a 115-107 loss on Monday to the Kings, who had 26 fast-break points in the victory.
"We knew coming in that they love to play in transition, and we played into their hands," said Portland point guard Damian Lillard, who scored 35 points against Sacramento. "We turned the ball over and allowed them to get it out in transition. They play the fastest pace in the league, so we made it harder on ourselves than it had to be."
Portland got a nice performance from Jake Layman, who has filled in as the starting small forward while Moe Harkless deals with recurring knee problems. The 6-9 Layman scored 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting in 22 minutes against the Kings, three of his baskets coming on dunks.
"I'm not happy with the way I've been shooting the ball from three," said Layman, who is firing at a 33.3 percent clip from beyond the arc. "But attacking the basket, I feel good. I feel like I'm making good moves out there."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 15, 2019