first_img“They fought tonight, the energy was good. I wish they got rewarded, because we played well enough to win and it didn’t happen.”It was a subdued return of former Lakers coach Mike Brown to Staples Center. He escaped with a win as Cleveland’s coach despite trailing at halftime and despite the Lakers shooting 56.7 percent from the floor in the final three quarters.With their fifth consecutive loss and the 11th in their past 12 games, the Lakers fell to 14-24, a record that’s better than only two teams in the Western Conference. If not for the fact that Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash are expected to rejoin them at some point, the leftover Lakers could find discouragement rules the day.“There’s always a danger but if the character’s good, which it is, they will fight through this,” D’Antoni said. “It’s important for everybody, it’s important for the franchise, each player is playing for his future so they’ll keep fighting. “I don’t see any quit in them at all and if you’ve been around them all year, they have that quality. Hopefully we’ll get some of these guys back pretty soon and at least finish up the year on a good note.” What a long, strange trip this could be for the Lakers.On the eve of their seven-game sojourn away from Staples Center, the Lakers had a night they would like to remember but have to forget after dropping a 120-118 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday.Now comes the road, with three point guards, one forward and one legend hoping time speeds up to heal all of their wounds.“The injuries came at a bad time, but we’ll fight through it and hopefully get turned around and get some wins,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It would be nice to find ourselves on the road maybe. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img After a 40-point second quarter, in which Jodie Meeks (13), Nick Young (11) and Wesley Johnson (10) combined for 34 points, the Lakers stared down their nemesis: the third quarter.The Lakers were coming off a third quarter against the Clippers in which they were outscored 31-8, following a series of trouncings in that period to five other teams. The Lakers entered the game with the worst third-quarter performance in the NBA, being outscored by an average margin of 3.4 points.Sure enough, the Cavaliers (14-24) opened with a 22-6 run in the first six minutes, highlighted by newcomer Luol Deng’s three consecutive 3-pointers. Though they were staggered as the Cavs built a 10-point lead, they fought back to trail by only three points entering the final period.But in the second half, the Cavaliers’ 48-35 rebounding advantage took its toll. Plus the Cavs made 13 of 17 3-point tries, with Deng going 5 for 5 to hit 27 points.“The defense needs to improve drastically,” said Gasol, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds while playing on a sore toe that nearly sidelined him for the game. “It’s all about hustle and activity, scrambling and then putting bodies on people.“Everybody here wants to do well, contribute and play as hard as they can. It’s tough right now. We don’t have a lot of bullets here in our arsenal. … Hopefully we’ll catch a break one of these days.”Meeks, who hit six 3-pointers, had a season-high 26 points. Young, who had a 3-point shot to tie the score from the right wing go off the rim with 9.9 seconds left, had 28 points and six assists, matching his career best.“We have to somehow get a win,” Young said, referring to the trip that begins tonight in Phoenix. “That’s all there is about it. We have to stay with it, don’t give up.“It’s too early in the season to give up and just go into the gym and lay an egg every night. We still have to play with pride, go out there and compete. We have to do it for the fans.”Kendall Marshall, going 37 minutes at point guard, had 10 points and 16 assists.Anderson Varejao had 18 points and 18 rebounds. Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 13 rebounds and guard Dion Waiters added 17 points off the bench.Brown, fired five games into last season after taking the Lakers to the second round of the playoffs, was gracious in his return.“I have no ill will at all toward this place,” he said. “I enjoyed my time here.” Gasol had 16 points and six rebounds early in the fourth quarter. He didn’t practice on Sunday or Monday, letting his foot rest.“This season is nothing major, but it’s been nagging and bothersome,” Gasol said. “That has happened to a lot of players at a high percentage. That’s par for the NBA. It happens to most guys in the NBA.”last_img