C.J. Miles scored 28 points for Cleveland on Tuesday. (Mark Duncan / Associated…)
CLEVELAND — These are the Lakers, for worse or for worse.
No defense, boring offense, few victories, little entertainment.
They took another beating Tuesday night, setting a new standard for lowly losses this season by falling to the already fallen Cleveland Cavaliers, 100-94, at Quicken Loans Arena.
They tumbled to 12th in the Western Conference — 12th? 12th! — after losing to a team that was 4-17. They've lost three straight and five of six and are 9-13, two games behind Denver for the suddenly coveted eighth spot in the West, though they'd have to fight through Minnesota, Houston and Portland to get there.
But, hey, who's counting?
There are really only two things the Lakers can do at this point because nothing else is working.
Wait for Pau Gasol and Steve Nash to return. And, hope they improve dramatically.
The stats were all too familiar from their other losses, almost too mundane to go over again: 19 turnovers, 41.3% shooting, 62.5% free-throw accuracy.
"We're sick of losing," Dwight Howard said. Kobe Bryant one-upped him, calling it one of the most baffling stretches of his career.
At least one person was happy, though for mainly hygienic reasons: Luke Walton. He and Cleveland teammate Kyrie Irving started growing beards this month and vowed to shave them only after the Cavaliers won again.
"I'm kind of depressed," the former Lakers forward said earlier Tuesday. "I'm growing out my Midwest beard and I've got some patches in it that I never expected."
The Cavaliers hadn't won since Nov. 30. Walton can grab the nearest razor.
Bryant had a season-high 42 points, making 16 of 28 shots. Howard had 19 points and 20 rebounds. That was it for Lakers highlights, unless you counted their comeback from a 16-point deficit. Almost.
The Lakers dropped to 2-7 on the road and were blistered by lame perimeter defense. Irving hadn't played in three weeks because of a broken finger but had 28 points and 11 assists. Shooting guard C.J. Miles had 28 points, the third-highest total of his eight-year career, the Lakers thankful he once had a 40-point outburst against Minnesota and 29 against Washington.
Coach Mike D'Antoni tried to shake up the lineup, inserting Jordan Hill in place of Antawn Jamison. It failed. Hill made one of six shots and had three more fouls than points (two).
The Lakers hoped to get back Gasol from knee tendinitis. That didn't work out either. He was sidelined again, missing a fifth consecutive game.
He played 65 of 66 games last season and all 82 the year before that. But will he play Thursday in New York?
"Who knows?" Gasol said. "It's an enigma."
All of a sudden, the Lakers' game Friday at Washington (3-15) is no gimme.
Within an hour of Tuesday's loss, Cleveland Coach Byron Scott came by the Lakers' locker room and embraced Bryant, his former teammate. They shared a few private words.
A few minutes before that, Howard tried to put a happy face on some sad days for the franchise, in his own way.
"We're not playing the greatest basketball we want to play, but there will come a day when we'll have the gun," he said. "Right now we're the rabbits. Once we get the gun, it's not going to be fun for everybody else."