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Cavs Host Irked Lakers in Last Game Before All-Star Break

The last time the Lakers and Cavaliers took the court, it produced one of the more memorable games of the season...but not for the reasons Cleveland wanted. The Cavs set the franchise record for fewest points in a game and lost by a whopping 55 points.

Here are a few things that were said after the Jan. 11 debacle:

"I thought that was embarrassing... We didn't compete" - Cavs coach Byron Scott

"It can't be any worse than this. If it is, someone will have to help me because I don't know how much of this I can take... This by far is rock bottom. It's definitely by far one of the most embarrassing moments that I've been a part of as far as basketball." - Antawn Jamison

"This shit is embarrassing. I feel like I can't even show my face in Cleve." - Mo Williams (via Twitter)

"Crazy. Karma is a b****., Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!" - LeBron James (via Twitter)

In a season defined by the loss of a superstar/franchise player and an NBA-record 26 game losing streak, it was arguably the low point. And any momentum the Cavs may have been building after Friday night's streak-snapping win over the Clippers was quickly quelled with an inept, uninspired performance on Sunday against a Wizards team that hadn't won a road game in 310 days.

Now, in the last game before the All-Star break, they face a Lakers team that dropped two games in a row over the past weekend and has heard virtually nothing but trade rumors and doomsday talk from both local and national media outlets. Los Angeles was particularly uninspired in Monday's loss at Charlotte, allowing the Bobcats to shoot over 50 percent in a 109-89 loss.

The Lakers were coming off a difficult back-to-back after playing in Orlando on Sunday afternoon. They played in Boston and New York on Thursday and Friday (respectively), making it their fourth game in five nights. Still, the effort didn't sit well with Phil Jackson:

"I just have this to say: we're very disappointed in our performance tonight, we're embarrassed about what we did, and that's it," Jackson told reporters before walking away.

Games like this happen for Los Angeles - they're a championship team and they rarely play with a real sense of urgency in the regular season. While it can frustrate fans and give writers and radio hosts something to talk about, it's more important that guys such as Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum have their legs fresh in the playoffs.

But catch them at the wrong time in the regular season and you can still feel their wrath, given they have size and skill to dominate inferior opponents. They went through a similar stretch in December, losing three of four at home (Milwaukee, Miami, Memphis) by an average margin of 18 points per game. They responded by blowing out the Pistons and Knicks before delivering their most impressive win of the season against the Cavs.

L.A.'s seven-game, 12-day road trip will wrap up in Cleveland tonight. It's a chance for them to head into the All-Star break on a positive note before heading back on the road for seven of their following 10 games.

After Cleveland's loss on Sunday, Byron Scott said he planned on "working their [butts] off" on the defensive end until they played with more consistency. Per, the Cavs are the worst team in the league in terms of defensive rating (112.8) and defensive efficiency (109.4 points per 100 possessions).

''I understand what wins in this league and in every major sport and it's on that end of the floor,'' Scott said. ''We have to be committed at that end of the floor every single day. And we're going to work on it every single day until we are.'' (quotes from Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal)

Scott is saying the right things but some extra effort in practice probably isn't going to change the fact that the guards can't keep opponents in front of them or the forwards can't show and recover quick enough. But hopefully it's enough to motivate the young guys to give a performance similar to the ones put forth against Dallas, Portland, Memphis and L.A. (Clips).

Against a team like the Lakers, it probably won't be enough to win. But they'll probably keep the deficit under 50 this time.


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