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Lakers find their happy place in 113-93 rout of Cavaliers

Dwight Howard returns in victory that ends six-game skid and lifts Lakers' spirits. Metta World Peace seems less than thrilled, but he might be having fun too.

January 13, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times

It was back to the fun times of seasons past, when the only tension in the building centered on the Lakers' winning two free tacos for each fan at Staples Center.

Even then, it wasn't much of a question Sunday.

The Lakers, with Dwight Howard back in the lineup, easily handled the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-93, at Staples Center.

Their six-game losing streak was punted and they were no longer the only team without a victory in 2013, allowing their fans to momentarily forget all that went wrong so far.

Not that there was any celebrating. Certainly not in the corner of the locker room inhabited by Metta World Peace.

"If I'm not mistaken, we're supposed to beat this team," said World Peace, who added that fans should stop digesting Lakers postgame shows after a game like this.

"Every fan that's listening right now should just watch repeats of 'Three's Company.' Turn the radio off and go watch a movie or something. I don't mean to disrespect Cleveland, but we were supposed to win. What do you want me to say? 'Hey we played great tonight!'"

World Peace continued his diatribe, which was mostly good-natured.

"I blame the media. Right now you have low expectations for us," he said. "Defense was great tonight? It's supposed to be against five rookies learning how to play the game. They see Kobe [Bryant] and they're just excited. They're playing in Staples Center. They probably partied last night.

"I blame you [media] guys for not promoting the team. Too many times you talk about great players and then a team comes in here and beats us because you all don't promote the team, Los Angeles media.

"And you all converted to Clippers fans. All you beat guys have Clippers badges and stuff now. You guys converted on us. That's all right, though. We'll be back."

Later he added with a smile, "No more 'Kobe, Kobe.' Everything's 'Kobe, Kobe.' Promote 'Lakers.'

"You guys [write], 'Dwight Howard's here in L.A.!' You forget about the little guys."

Leave it to World Peace to try to bring the Lakers back down to earth. What a strange season indeed.

The Cavaliers (9-30) are awful and yet they beat the Lakers (16-21) last month in Cleveland.

Howard had 22 points Sunday on nine-for-11 shooting and took 14 rebounds after missing three games because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder. His seven turnovers were an eyesore, along with the 22 committed in all by the Lakers, but it was the type of game that brought a rare fourth-quarter rest for Bryant.

Bryant had 23 points and six assists and played superb defense Sunday on Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, aggressively denying him the ball on numerous occasions and setting the scene as the Lakers held Cleveland to 41% shooting. Irving had 15 points on seven-for-15 shooting.

"I've got to get to the front lines and do a better job defensively and play with a lot more energy defensively and hope that it trickles down to everybody else," Bryant said.

He then talked chemistry, seemingly agreeing with World Peace's discourse.

"Part of the problem is we're playing in Los Angeles. There's so much attention that people concentrate on individuals and a lot of times that can trickle down to everybody else on the team," Bryant said. "Everybody starts thinking about themselves. You can't be that way. You have to think about what we are doing as a group."

The Lakers won without Pau Gasol, who missed his fourth game because of a concussion but did some light shooting Sunday morning and worked out on an elliptical machine.

World Peace was part of a breezy moment in the third quarter, failing on a dunk attempt only for the ball to pop up several feet and fall into the basket. He couldn't stop smiling after it happened.

"I think fans have been suffering a little bit so I guess it was cool to see something like that," he said.

The Lakers needed a light-hearted game. There have been so few of them.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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