Lakers beat Cavs in impressive fashion

The Cavs were up 61-51 at halftime, but a 22-8 run to start the third quarter put the Lakers in control of the game, and they went on to win, 101-91. That run included an 11-0 spurt at the start of the quarter, and Mike Brown failed to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. After all, the Cavs are still a young team, so they are not as adept at playing through adversity as, say, the Celtics, Spurs or even the Lakers. I kept waiting for Brown to call a timeout but it never happened, and in many ways, that shift of momentum at the beginning of the second half was the difference in the game.

But it didn’t help that LeBron James shot 5 of 20 from the field. He had a near triple-double (16 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) but he’d be the first to admit that he didn’t play very well. It’s not often that the Cavs get 57 combined points from Mo Williams, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wally Szczerbiak and still find a way to lose, but they did just that today.

After the loss of Andrew Bynum for 8-12 weeks, the Lakers have to feel great about completing this five-game road trip with consecutive wins against the Celtics and Cavs. Kobe was apparently battling the flu, but still managed to outscore LeBron (with 19 points) and hit a crucial rainbow jumper with just 2:48 remaining to put the Lakers up six. Lamar Odom (28 points, 17 rebounds) continues to play big basketball in Bynum’s absence, and is doing wonders for the contract that he’ll be signing this summer as a free agent.

So with a 1-3 combined record against the Celtics and Lakers, do the Cavs make a move with Szczerbiak’s expiring contract or do they stand pat and hope for the best? I think they have to do everything they can to win a title (or at least get to the Finals this year) if they hope to keep LeBron next summer, but clearly they have to hold out for a deal that has a great chance to make them better. I think they could package Szczerbiak with Hickson (and maybe a first round pick or two) and get themselves an impact big like Jermaine O’Neal.

Is that worth the risk? Well, O’Neal had 22 points, nine boards and nine blocks in a recent loss against the Lakers and his contract expires in 2010, so it wouldn’t affect the team’s cap flexibility in the long term.

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