Cleveland (22-13) had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 109-90 loss at Phoenix on Thursday. LeBron James scored 34 points, including the Cavaliers’ first 14 to start the fourth quarter, but the outcome was already decided by then as Cleveland trailed 67-41 at halftime.
“It’s just one game,” James said. “It can be a little disappointing, but we don’t look at it like that. We have to learn from whatever we did. We did some good things, but we also did some bad things.”
James didn’t receive much help from his teammates. Drew Gooden was the only other Cav in double figures with 11 points as Cleveland shot 37.9 percent from the field.
The Cavs are looking forward to erasing the memory of their worst loss of the season.
“This game is not going to define our season,” forward Donyell Marshall said. “It is the second game of our road trip and we are 1-1 right now. We just have to stay focused. We’ve been playing well coming into this game and it’s one game.”
James has never won at Staples Center, losing three times to both the Clippers (17-19) and the Lakers. He’s shot just 38.4 percent in those games, including 33.3 percent in the three losses to the Clippers.
Los Angeles is 12-6 at home and enters after winning the last two games of a six-game trip. The Clippers split the trip with a hard-fought 92-91 victory at Minnesota on Wednesday.
Elton Brand had 21 points and Sam Cassell added 18 points for Los Angeles, which has been bothered by various injuries this season as it tries to build off reaching the second round of the playoffs a season ago.
“If we can play like this, with this aggressiveness, this passion? See, that’s the game,” Cassell said. “That’s what we’ve been playing with. That’s why we have been successful.”
Cassell made his first start since Dec. 2, starting in the backcourt with Shaun Livingston for the first time. He missed seven games due to soreness in his left foot before coming off the bench Monday against New Orleans.
Livingston made just 6-of-30 shots from the field in the last three games of the trip, but managed to hand out an average of 6.0 assists in that span.
Cleveland is hoping the trip to Los Angeles will revitalize center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who made 1-of-9 shots for four points on Thursday. Ilgauskas is averaging 21.6 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last five games against the Clippers.
The home team has won the last seven meetings between these teams.