Page last updated on Mon Dec 22 07:01:24 EST 2014
01/14/2013 1:10 AM EST
Lakers beat Cavs 113-93, snap 6-game skid

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dwight Howard arrived at Staples Center
expecting to sit out another game to rest his injured shoulder.
He ended up helping the Los Angeles Lakers out of their longest
losing streak in nearly six years, which made that shoulder feel
a whole lot better.

Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds in his return from a
three-game absence, and the Lakers snapped their six-game losing
streak with a 113-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on
Sunday night.

"When we play like this, we win, and we win big," Howard said.
"We've just got to continue to learn from games like that, and
hopefully we can just string together some wins."

Kobe Bryant scored 23 points for the Lakers, who finally earned
their first victory of 2013 while ending their longest skid
since February 2007. Howard went 9 for 11 despite his torn
labrum while leading Los Angeles to a comfortable victory over
the lowly Cavaliers, who beat the Lakers last month.

Steve Nash said the win was "mandatory" for the Lakers, and they
played with an appropriate effort. Nash had 10 points and nine
assists for the Lakers, whose skid has been severe enough to
cause fans to worry about this star-packed roster's playoff
chances even in mid-January.

"I don't want to overdo it, (but) I don't want to undersell it,
either," Nash said. "We have to make up that ground. In so many
areas, it was big to get a win tonight and have something to
build on."

After Oklahoma City ran the Lakers out of Staples Center on
Friday night in a 116-101 victory, a downbeat coach Mike
D'Antoni told his players that "our season starts Sunday."
Opening day went well for the Lakers, but much bigger challenges
loom - including the Miami Heat's visit on Thursday.

The Lakers' hopes of a run hinge on their defensive effort, and
Bryant led a strong push against the Cavs.

"I though Kobe set the tone hawking the ball with (Kyrie)
Irving," D'Antoni said. "Defense was much better with Dwight
back in there."

Irving and Dion Waiters scored 15 points apiece for Cleveland,
which has lost seven of nine. Alonzo Gee added 14 points for the
Cavaliers, who fell behind by 19 points in the first quarter of
their second stop on a five-game West Coast road trip.

"We beat them the last time, but tonight they did a great job of
containing me and everybody on the team," said Irving, who had
seven assists. "We just got punched in the mouth in the first
quarter. We just didn't have that fight in the first quarter,
and it kind of killed us the rest of the game."

Cleveland (9-30) is barely ahead of Washington (6-28) for the
NBA's worst record.

Pau Gasol missed his fourth straight game for Los Angeles with a
concussion, while top backup Jordan Hill is likely out for the
season with an injured hip. Earl Clark had another solid game in
the starting lineup with 13 points, nine rebounds and three
blocked shots, while Antawn Jamison added 16 points and hit four
of the Lakers' 13 3-pointers.

Howard injured his shoulder earlier this month during a game
against the Clippers, and he aggravated the injury last Sunday
while grabbing a career high-tying 26 rebounds against Denver.
He sat out for the past week to rest the injury, but didn't
appear limited while patrolling the paint against the Cavs
despite committing seven turnovers.

"Getting beat like that is embarrassing," said Cavs guard C.J.
Miles, who had five points on 1-for-9 shooting. "You definitely
can't live with this. That's the reason why it's really a big
deal to us in this locker room, because we're striving to get
better. There are going to be some bumps. We know that. We're
not going to use that youth thing as a crutch, but there's some
nights where we're playing a veteran team, and tonight it

Before the game, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott declined to follow
the lead of fellow `80s Lakers greats Magic Johnson and James
Worthy in hammering the current Lakers for their defense,
toughness and D'Antoni's strategy. Scott understandably has
bigger concerns than his ex-teammates-turned-pundits who have
mercilessly ripped D'Antoni, Howard and even Bryant in recent

Los Angeles looked sharp early, taking 37-18 lead in the final
minute of the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Bryant. But the
Lakers committed turnovers on six straight possessions late in
the second half, allowing Cleveland to trim their lead to nine

The Lakers still scored 57 points in the first half with 17
assists on their 20 field goals.

NOTES: Nash hit three free throws, improving to 18 for 18 this
season and increasing his minuscule lead on Mark Price for the
best free throw percentage in NBA history. ... Cleveland
continues its road trip in Sacramento on Monday night against
the Kings, who have lost four straight. ... The Lakers won
despite 22 turnovers, including 18 by their starting lineup.

RK Team
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