Rapid Reaction: Lakers 119, Cavaliers 108

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
6:43
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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CLEVELAND -- Despite the Los Angeles Lakers coming into Wednesday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with just eight healthy bodies available to play, coach Mike D'Antoni refused to use injuries as a crutch.

"We can play better, and we need to concentrate on that and not worry about the other stuff we can’t control," D'Antoni said with a little defiance, perhaps a little hopefulness. "Our guys are going to battle through it, and we’re just trying to stay positive and get better -- individually better and the team better -- and every game try to make a win out of it."

And the Lakers made D'Antoni look prophetic, for a little while, at least.

They tied their season high with 36 points in the first quarter and then set a new season high with 70 points in the first half, shooting 62.5 percent from the field as a team in the process. They led by 21 at the break.

But then Nick Young twisted his left knee on a fast break and did not return, and L.A. was down to seven players.

And then Chris Kaman fouled out, and the Lakers were down to six.

And then Jordan Farmar felt something tighten up in his left calf, and they were down to five.

And then Robert Sacre fouled out with 3:32 to go and the Lakers were down to … five? Still? Sacre was allowed to stay in the game by virtue of a little-known NBA rule that requires teams to keep five players on the court at all times, even if a player has fouled out. The Cavs were simply rewarded a technical foul on top of Sacre's sixth personal foul and play continued on.

"I've never seen this situation before!!" Pau Gasol tweeted as he followed along from L.A. "Did anybody know about this rule!?"

It was bizarre. It was extraordinary. It was par for the course for this topsy-turvy Lakers season.

Steve Nash, who was supposed to have the night off, even scrambled to put on a jersey and get back to the bench in case the Lakers needed him.

They didn't need him. They actually won, breaking their seven-game losing streak.

How it happened: The Cavs cut the Lakers' 29-point lead all the way down to eight with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Blake hit two 3-pointers in the final minutes to keep L.A. afloat.

What it means: Sure, the Lakers almost blew a huge lead, and, true, they allowed a 16th straight opponent to score 100-plus points. But they somehow pulled it off and got the win despite some serious adversity.

Hits: Blake finished with a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists.

Farmar had 21 points and eight assists in his first game since Dec. 31 because of a left hamstring tear.

Ryan Kelly scored a career-high 26.

Wes Johnson kept up his strong road trip with 20 points and nine rebounds.

L.A. shot 18-for-37 from 3 as a team (48.6 percent).

Misses: Both Jodie Meeks (right ankle sprain) and Jordan Hill (neck strain) missed their first game all season long by sitting out against Cleveland. They had been the only Lakers players to appear in every game this season up to that point.

The Lakers were outrebounded 57-40.

Stat of the game: 6-for-6. That's what L.A. started from 3 as a team.

Up next: The Lakers close out their three-game road trip Friday in Philadelphia against the 76ers. They have an off day Thursday.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0