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Lakers lower boom on Cavaliers, 112-57

L.A. sets a record for fewest points given up and has one of the biggest margins of victory in team history.

January 11, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan

These were the types of opponents that recently confounded the Lakers, leading to frustrated boos from fans and irritated looks from Kobe Bryant.

On Tuesday, though, the Lakers created 48 minutes of laughter by destroying the overmatched Cleveland Cavaliers and shattering a team record for fewest points allowed.

After slipping at home against Memphis, Milwaukee and Indiana this season, the Lakers crushed Cleveland, 112-57, and pulled off their largest margin of victory since 1972.

Their newly reconfigured defense was humming, none of Cleveland's starters scoring more than eight points, and fans began grabbing for their cellphones to take pictures of the Staples Center scoreboard at the end of the third quarter, the Lakers ahead by a stunning 92-41.

It was the third-largest margin of victory in Lakers history, and there was plenty of room to spare while breaking their defensive record of 66 points allowed against Charlotte in March 2002.

Even if the teams played six quarters, fans in attendance still might have won their free taco promotion.

"This is what hard work does," Bryant said. "We've really been focused on the defensive end and we've been getting better game by game."

Bryant said he "absolutely" felt bad for Cleveland Coach Byron Scott, even referring to him as an older brother, but his kindness ended when asked if he felt sympathy for the Cavaliers.

"None," he said. "You forget who you're talking to."

The Lakers (28-11) didn't exactly pick on someone their own size, blowing away a team that arrived with a staggering 1-20 slump and a busload of injuries.

Still, Coach Phil Jackson reminded the Lakers beforehand of their 1-5 record against the Cavaliers over the last three seasons.

The Lakers, winning their fifth in a row, held the Cavaliers to 29.9% shooting and came close to topping a 56-point victory in 1966 against Detroit, but still a ways from their 63-point win against Golden State in 1972.

The Cavaliers (8-30) simply haven't recovered since Miami forward LeBron James thumped his former team, 118-90, last month. It didn't help that Cleveland recently lost center Anderson Varejao for the season because of a torn tendon in his right foot.

During the game, from somewhere in Los Angeles, where Miami was waiting to play the Clippers on Wednesday, came a proclamation from none other than James.

"Crazy," he wrote on his Twitter feed with some grammatical errors. "Karma is a b****. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!"

So who exactly are the Cavaliers these days? Even Jackson didn't know.

"I'm looking forward to seeing these new players they have on their team that I've never heard of," he said beforehand. "I wasn't familiar with their names. They were undrafted players that are free agents and some of them are from the D-League."

The stat of the night: The Lakers led by 28 late in the second quarter and Bryant had exactly two points.

Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum each had 15 points, and Bryant and Pau Gasol finished with 13 points.

The Lakers led at halftime, 57-25, their best defensive half point-wise since giving up 21 in a February 2000 victory over Utah.

It only got worse for Cleveland.

In the third quarter, Bryant moved in on a three-on-none fastbreak and lobbed the ball off the backboard for a trailing Bynum to dunk. Not long after that, the Lakers led by an embarrassingly large palindromic score of 72-27.

Then the Lakers became the first NBA team since 2001 to lead by at least 50 going into the fourth quarter.

It was a night to remember for the Lakers, though Bynum was already looking ahead to Wednesday's game against the high-scoring Warriors.

"It's pretty amazing, but at the same timeā€¦ if we can do it [Wednesday] night again against Golden State, then it'll really mean something."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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