Posted December 10, 2012 on
AP on Fox
While the Los Angeles Lakers' offense has improved since Mike D'Antoni took over as coach, those strides seem to be coming at the cost of a defense which continues to struggle.
The Lakers are still searching for answers as they begin a four-game road trip Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hope Kyrie Irving's return will help them snap a five-game skid.
Los Angeles (9-12) has dropped two straight and four of five, and is 4-7 since D'Antoni took the reigns after Mike Brown was fired. Brown's termination was partially due to the Lakers' offensive struggles, which D'Antoni has seemingly helped. They're averaging 103.0 points with D'Antoni at the helm after putting up 97.8 per game under Brown.
The offense hasn't been the problem, though, as Los Angeles averaged 106.5 points in its last four losses. The Lakers allowed opponents to average 112.8 points and shoot 47.2 percent in those games.
Los Angeles limited opponents to 95.2 points per game under Brown but has given up at least 100 in seven of D'Antoni's 11 contests, including a 117-110 home loss to Utah on Sunday.
"I just don't think we've had a gut-check moment yet," D'Antoni said. "At some point we're going to draw a line in the sand and that's it, you have to fight. It seems like things happen on the court that get us down. Are there possessions we just throw away? Yeah. We have too many guys who will take a possession off."
Teams have especially exploited the Lakers' transition defense. Utah outscored them 19-4 on the fast break and they've been outscored 76-42 in transition over the last four games.
"Our half-court defense is OK, just giving up too many transition points," said Kobe Bryant, averaging a league-best 28.6 points.
The Cavaliers (4-17) will likely present a bigger challenge than initially expected, as Irving is expected to play after missing the last 11 games with a fractured finger. Without Irving and his team-leading 22.9 points per game, Cleveland lost nine times, the last four of which were also missed by second-leading scorer Dion Waiters (15.2 ppg).
Waiters is out because of a sprained left ankle and didn't practice Monday, but Irving's return should be a big boost for a team averaging 83.5 points over its last four.
"I think all the guys are looking forward to having Irving back out there because he does make most of our guys' job a lot easier because he creates so much for himself and for his teammates," coach Byron Scott said. "I'm sure the guys will be happy to have him back out there."
Cleveland got another scare in a 104-97 home loss to Detroit on Saturday. Anderson Varejao exited in the second quarter with a bruised left elbow, but X-rays were negative and he finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds while playing with the elbow wrapped.
Pau Gasol (knee) has missed the last four games for the Lakers, while Steve Nash has sat out 19 with a small fracture in his left leg. D'Antoni said both could return during the trip.
Bryant scored 42 points in a 97-92 home win against the Cavaliers last season. Los Angeles, 2-6 on the road, has lost six of its last seven trips to Cleveland.
BEST OF MAXIM
The Cleveland Cavaliers announced today that PG Kyrie Irving was cleared to begin practicing and should be available for Tuesday’s game against the Lakers.
Irving will practice today and be in the starting line-up against the Lakers. #Cavs
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) December 10, 2012
The Cavaliers are 2-9 since Irving injured his finger, including the current five game losing...
Life without Kyrie Irving has not been fun. It was hard. How hard? The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-17, 13th in the East) went 2-9 without him. Sure, the Cavaliers are 2-8 with him, so there’s no evidence of the team being worse without him. But if you watched the 11 games he missed, you know the truth.
The Cavaliers score 108.3 points per 100 possessions with Kyrie on the floor. They...
Kyrie Irving was ready. The self-proclaimed Cavaliers’ biggest cheerleader was ready to put down his pom poms and swap his suit for a wine and gold jersey. He knew that all of his begging and pleas would fall on the deaf ears of team physicians, keeping a long term, investment-like frame of mind when it came to clearing the reigning Rookie of the Year to resume full basketball...
Kyrie Irving had missed the Cleveland Cavaliers' last 11 games with a fractured finger. In that time, the Cavaliers often looked hopeless. They lost nine of those 11 games. However, irving was back last night as the Cavs took on the Los Angeles Lakers. And he made an instant difference. In his first game back, Irving played the second-most minutes (38) of anyone on the...
The Cleveland Cavaliers have something to cheer for once again. Point guard Kyrie Irving, who went down with a broken finger, is expected to return to action tomorrow against the Los Angeles Lakers. He was previously expected to make a return next week. Jason Lloyd, a Cavaliers beat writer, tweeted the following.Kyrie returned to practice today, expected to play tmrw vs Lakers....
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Sitting and watching his teammates play was torture for Kyrie Irving. Seeing the Cavaliers lose made it worse.
Back earlier than expected, Irving was cleared to practice after missing 11 games with a broken left finger and the star point guard will likely play Tuesday night when Cleveland hosts the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's been very difficult...
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving has returned to practice and is available to play in Tuesdays home game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Irving, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, has missed the previous three weeks (11 games) with a broken left index finger.
He leads the team in scoring at 22.9 points per game, and assists at 5.6 per game.
Kyrie Irving talks after Cavaliers beat Lakers.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kyrie Irving scored 28 points in his return after missing 11 games with a broken finger, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 100-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, who dropped to a new low Tuesday night in a tumultuous season.
Irving added 11 assists in 39 minutes and showed off his dizzying array of moves as the Cavs ended a five-game losing streak.
Kyrie Irving will return to the Cavaliers on Wednesday.
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers ran into one of the all-time greats. But not even Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's season-high 42 points could ruin the return of Cavs guard Kyrie Irving on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena. Playing for the first time since Nov. 18, Irving had 28 points, six rebounds and a season-high 11 assists in the Cavs' exciting 100-94 victory...
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (left index finger fracture) has been cleared to resume practice today and is expected to be available to play against the Lakers tomorrow night at The Q.
What a night for Cleveland sports.
First, Kyrie Irving came back for the Cavaliers.
Then, while the game was going on, the Indians made what appears to be a stellar trade.
And then, just for good measure, the Cavaliers beat the Lakers.
It was evident from the beginning just how much Irving was missed. Kyrie wasted no time in making his impact felt and the Cavaliers opened up a huge...
Kyrie Irving is back, and man, thats just great.
Dion Waiters is not, and man, that sort of stinks.
After all, Waiters is the Cavs second-leading scorer, a developing rookie, a guy who scores 20 a game when the Cavs win. OK, thats only been four (out of 21) times, but still.
The Cavs need Waiters, Waiters needs playing time, and the Lakers are in town. And guess who...
The Cleveland Cavaliers are bringing a 14-game division losing streak into a matchup with a team they haven't beaten much of late.
There is some hope for the Cavaliers since Kyrie Irving has returned heading into Wednesday night's road contest with the Indiana Pacers.
Cleveland (5-17) hasn't beaten a Central Division foe since a 101-100 win over Detroit on Feb. 21....