Lakers stumble in last tilt before Grammy trip

LOS ANGELES — Even when things go right for the Lakers, somehow they find a way to go wrong.

The second quarter in Tuesday night’s 120-118 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t have gone any better for the Lakers. It was their best quarter of the season.

Los Angeles scored a season-high 40 points on 13-of-17 field goals and 12 assists to take a 63-57 lead into the locker room at halftime.

On the other side of intermission, the evil third quarter showed its stripes.

"It’s been an epidemic with that," Jordan Hill said of the team’s third quarter woes.  

Cleveland raced out of the locker room with a 13-2 run, quickly erasing the Lakers’ lead.

Energy, effort, rebounding — all of those things that were present in the first half weren’t anywhere to be found in the early stages of the third quarter.

An 18-18 tie in the rebounding battle ballooned to a 48-35 advantage for the Cavaliers by game’s end. The Lakers ineffectiveness on the boards led to a plethora of second-chance points for former Lakers coach Mike Brown’s team — 15 of them in the second half.

MORE ON NBA

"Just in big moments, like when the game could turn, we couldn’t rebound," said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni.

That may not have been the worst part. In an offensive showcase Lakers fans rarely saw in Brown’s tenure in Los Angeles, Cleveland beat D’Antoni and the Lakers at their own game: from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers, paced by Luol Deng’s 27 points and perfect 5-for-5 night from behind the arc, were piping hot from three-point range making 13-of-17 to the tune of 76.5 percent.

D’Antoni could do nothing but marvel at the marksmanship of the opposition.

"13-of-17 is good if nobody’s in the gym," D’Antoni said. "We had to control the boards, I thought, to overcome that stuff and we just couldn’t do it."

Added Brown: "We actually don’t want to play at that pace in terms of points and offensive flow for the other team any time we step on the floor, let alone on the road, but you’ve got to give our guys credit."

The loss to the Cavs is the last image for Lakers fans who won’t see their team on the Staples Center floor until Jan. 28. Losers of 11 out of their last 12 games, the Lakers will hit the road for their annual Grammy trip — a seven-game road swing beginning with a back-to-back at Phoenix on Wednesday night.