After the Los Angeles Lakers experienced their most lopsided loss of the season Monday - a 20-point drubbing on the road - coach Phil Jackson said he was embarrassed.
That was just the beginning of how Byron Scott and the Cleveland Cavaliers described their latest encounter with the Lakers.
Los Angeles’ 55-point beatdown of the Cavaliers last month was the low point in their 26-game losing streak and the worst defeat in franchise history, a humiliating performance Cleveland would love to avenge Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Lakers (38-18) couldn’t get anything going in an 89-75 loss to Orlando on Sunday, then couldn’t stop Charlotte in a 109-89 defeat Monday that left Jackson discouraged after his team began its lengthy road trip 4-0.
“I am very disappointed in our performance tonight,” Jackson said. “We are embarrassed about what we did and that’s it.”
Wednesday’s finale of Los Angeles’ seven-game trip offers a great chance to bounce back, but the league-worst Cavaliers (9-46) might have a little extra motivation. There were plenty of bad moments during their league-record losing streak that ended Friday with an overtime win against the Clippers, but none were worse than a 112-57 debacle against the Lakers on Jan. 11.
“I thought that was embarrassing,” Scott said at the time. “I told them at halftime, ‘You look scared. You look flat-out scared. You’re playing against the world champions, and instead of just competing and playing hard, you look scared. You look scared to death.’ That was my take on it, as simple as that.”
Mo Williams(notes) tweeted that he felt “like I can’t even show my face in Cleve.” Antawn Jamison(notes) called it “rock bottom,” and said it was one of the most embarrassing moments he’s been a part of in basketball.
Scott didn’t seem to welcome his players’ amped-up celebration after the win over the Clippers, telling them they should expect to win. They didn’t play like it two days later, falling behind by as many as 25 points in a 115-100 loss to Washington, the Wizards’ first road victory in 26 tries.
“I’m still trying to figure (my players) out because to me that was ridiculous,” Scott said. “Effort-wise, I thought it just was not there. In the beginning of the game it did not look like it was there. It looked like we were just sleepwalking through it.
“There has to be a sense of urgency every single night.”
That’s an urgency that seems to have left the Lakers in their two latest games, but their shooting touch has abandoned them as well. Los Angeles shot a combined 5 for 35 (14.3 percent) from 3-point range at Orlando and Charlotte.
The Lakers are in the middle of the pack in 3-point shooting at 35.6 percent, but when they shoot it well, they win. When Los Angeles hits 40 percent or more from beyond the arc, it’s 19-1.
The Lakers are facing the right team to try to regain their touch from long distance. The Cavaliers allow opponents to shoot 42.6 percent from 3-point range. Only the 2008-09 Kings have let the opposition shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc since the line was installed in 1979-80.
Los Angeles lost five of its last six visits to Cleveland against the LeBron James(notes)-led Cavs. Kobe Bryant(notes) only averages fewer points versus New Jersey (22.4) than he does against Cleveland (22.5).