These aren’t the Lakers, but are these the Cavs?

Anderson Varejao says the Cavaliers must drown out the "noise" and focus on what they can control.

Jerome Miron/Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers (16-32) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (16-32)

Venue: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland.

TV: 7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio (Cavaliers Live pregame at 6:30 p.m.)

Projected Starters

LOS ANGELES: C Robert Sacre; PF Ryan Kelly; SF Wesley Johnson; SG Steve Blake; PG Steve Nash.

CLEVELAND: C Anderson Varejao; PF Tristan Thompson; SF Luol Deng; SG Jarrett Jack; PG Kyrie Irving.

Pregame Notes:

— The Cavaliers are a mess. The Lakers are a mess. The weather in Cleveland is a mess. Have a great night at The Q, everybody!

— I hate to be such a wise guy, but if the basketball isn’t going to be entertaining, least I could do is try to have fun writing about it.

— One common denominator stands out to me about the writers who cover the Cavs: Our stories are getting shorter and shorter. Probably because we’re tired of saying the same thing over and over again. I know I sure am.

— Remember when the Cavs played the Lakers in LA? It was an exciting game with lots of ball movement and scoring and a thrilling finish. The Cavs won, 120-118. It came on a West Coast swing in which the Cavs won three of five and seemed to be pulling it together. But that feels like four years ago.

Answers seeming less clear with each Cavs loss

— Since that trip, the Cavs have lost seven of eight. Five of those games were at home. The lone win came over Milwaukee at The Q. And the Bucks aren’t exactly putting their best foot forward these days.

— The Cavs supposedly are, yet they’re right there with the likes of known tankers such as Orlando, Philadelphia, Utah and several other stinkers in the standings.

— I’ve covered the NBA on and off for as long as Kyrie Irving has been alive. It has been my full-time job for five years. I’ve seen a lot of basketball. I feel as if I know enough about it to form at least a decent gauge of how it should be played at the professional level. Yet I cannot figure out the Cavs’ biggest issue. They’re obviously soft defensively. The majority of the time, their ball movement reeks. And even when they score a lot, this offense just makes guys look bad.

— Still, there have been times when they’ve played so well together, appeared so determined, been lots of fun to watch. Why did it suddenly end just when it seemed like it was getting good? Your guess is as good as mine.

— A few quick notes about the actual game: Lakers guard Jodie Meeks rolled his ankle in a loss at Minnesota on Tuesday. It looked nasty. Guard Steve Nash returned after missing a few months, and stayed healthy. Guard Steve Blake returned after missing two months with a shattered elbow, and almost immediately suffered a ruptured ear drum. Forward Jordan Hill took a shot to the head (from teammate Chris Kaman) and is doubtful. Forward/center Pau Gasol is out with a right groin strain.

— The Lakers have lost seven straight. These aren’t really the Lakers, actually. They’re just a bunch of random guys dressed in Lakers uniforms.

— Varejao on the Cav’s recent struggles, and the "noise" from media and fans that come with those struggles: "I’m not going to say I didn’t see it, didn’t read it. But at the end of the day we have no control of that. What we can control is here, how hard we work, how hard we play. That should be our main focus."

— I asked coach Mike Brown if this has been his biggest challenge. He said yes. "Just because of the dynamics and the age of the team, the expectations placed on the team and what we expect from ourselves, it’s something that’s challenging for myself,"€ he said. "It’s something I haven’t been through before."€

— Brown later added: "My wife was in Dallas, and I was talking to her about it after the game. It kind of makes me hungry. I want to get after it and get it right, more than anything."

— Lots of folks ask me what the Cavs plan to do with the roster, with Brown, with general manager Chris Grant, and why owner Dan Gilbert has been so quiet lately. I don’t know about the first three (although I don’t expect any major decisions until the season ends) and I’m not really sure what anyone wants Gilbert to say. He’s every bit as irritated as the fans and he isn’t  going to put up with it for too long. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot to discuss.