Five things to take from Lakers’ 120-118 loss to Cleveland Cavaliers

Below is five things to take from the Lakers’ 120-118 loss Tuesday to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center:

1. Nick Young tried to carry the Lakers, but it didn’t work Far many other factors contributing to the Lakers losing 11th game in the previous 12 contests. But the Lakers could’ve satisfied the bottom-line result had the Lakers hit some key shots. Nick Young missed two consecutive three-pointers that could’ve tied the game, marring an otherwise impressive 28 points on 7 of 16 shooting. It also overshadowed Young drawing a foul on a previous 3-point attempt and canning all three foul shots to reduce Cleveland’s lead to 118-116 with 25 seconds left.

2. The Lakers defense remains missing. Does it feel like deja vu yet? It should. Cite any of the Lakers’ 11th loss in the past 12 games, and it will include defensive issues that remain wide-ranging. The Lakers don’t close off the paint, enabling new acquisition Luol Deng to score most of his 27 points on 9 of 15 shooting that contributed to Cleveland’s 46 points in that area. The Lakers don’t hustle and fight their way to the glass, allowing the Cavaliers to dominate the offensive boards (16-4). The Lakers also don’t shut off the perimeter, leaving plenty of open space for Cleveland to drop 13 of 17 from three-point range.

Blame the injuries all you want, but the Lakers could offset this with what they have so long as they shore up some basic principles. They have to space the floor and run back quickly so they can stop fast-breaks. The Lakers need to communicate on defense so that an individual effort doesn’t solely dictate the Lakers’ defensive success. But these are issues the Lakers have for quite some time now. So what’s the use of repeating when they won’t change?

3. The Lakers showed too much inconsistency. The Lakers provided something unsettling far worse than any discomfort stemmed from eating concession stand food at halftime. The Lakers continued their slide where they spend the third quarter either throwing away early productivity
or expounding on their lingering issues. Against Cleveland, the Lakers wiped away a 63-57 halftime lead by allowing Cleveland to outscore them, XX, in the third quarter. That included the Cavaliers going on a 20-6 run for the first 5 1/2 minutes, while going 3-of-7 of from the field and committing three turnovers.

So much for the Lakers going through the second quarter where they posted a season-high 40 points, shot 76.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from three-point range. Such numbers aren’t sustainable. But the Lakers fail to keep up the same intensity most notably because of fatigue and depth issues. Fortunately for the Lakers, the Clippers aren’t a very good team. Consider the Lakers’ recent third-quarter scoring deficits against the Clippers (31-8), Houston (33-15), Denver (33-22), Philadelphia (34-25), Phoenix (26-17) and Golden State (26-15). In related news, the Lakers lost all of those games.

4. Pau Gasol played a so-so game. He didn’t show too many signs of discomfort playing with a moderate strain in his big left toe, postng 20 points on 9 of 13 shooting and 12 rebounds. He made plenty of jumpers and hooks. Gasol drove to the basket for an easy dunk that cut Cleveland’s lead to 117-113 with 43 seconds left. The majority of Kendall Marshall’s 16 assists also accounted for Gasol’s versatile skillset. But his defense remained shaky. Gasol also threw an ill-advised pass to a wide open Dion Waiters at Cleveland’s basket that gave the Cavaliers a 110-102 cushion with 4:33 left.

5. Jodie Meeks refound his shooting stroke. After having a three-game stretch where he shot below 50 percent, Meeks finished with a team-leading 26 points on 9 of 14 shooting. There wasn’t really much of a difference in Meeks’ shooting stroke than in his earlier struggles. Through his time with the Lakers, Meeks has always proven feast or famine, as indicated by his airballed three-pointer with under a minute left. But Meeks made himself more productive by having zero turnovers, a stark contrast to the four he had last Wednesday against Houston and five he committed last Friday to the Clippers.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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