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Published: Monday, 2/9/2009

Lakers hand Cavs first home loss

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lakers forward Lamar Odom (7) throws down an emphatic dunk against the Cavaliers. Cleveland had its 23-game home winning streak snapped yesterday in a 101-91 loss. Lakers forward Lamar Odom (7) throws down an emphatic dunk against the Cavaliers. Cleveland had its 23-game home winning streak snapped yesterday in a 101-91 loss.
MARK DUNCAN / AP Enlarge

CLEVELAND - Kobe Bryant was sick. The Cleveland Cavaliers just looked it.

With Bryant suffering from the flu, Lamar Odom scored a season-high 28 points - 15 in the third quarter - and Pau Gasol scored 18 as the streak-busting Los Angeles Lakers dominated the second half and handed Cleveland its first home loss this season, 101-91 yesterday to complete a 6-0 road trip.

Bryant was not himself. The superstar vomited before the game, shivered with chills throughout and needed intravenous fluids at halftime. But Odom picked up the offensive slack, helped contain LeBron James on defense and was the biggest factor in the Lakers outscoring the Cavaliers 50-30 after halftime.

"That was one of the best games he's played for us," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of the enigmatic Odom. "He's had some spectacular games, but that was a terrific game. It was the total package of his game. He broke people down with his speed and quickness to the basket and got some easy shots."

It's been a tough few days for Cleveland. First, guard Mo Williams was bypassed for the second time as an all-star. Then, James had his apparent historic triple-double in New York downgraded by an NBA review, and now, the Cavaliers have had their invincibility at home stripped by the road-weary Lakers.

"You have to give the Lakers credit," said James, who scored 16 but missed 15 of his 20 field-goal tries. "I missed a lot of easy looks that I usually make."

The Cavaliers came in 23-0 at Quicken Loans Arena but were stopped by the Lakers, who are gaining a reputation for stopping streaks.

They ended Boston's 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day and halted a 12-game run by the Celtics earlier this week. This was Cleveland's first loss at home since Game 5 against Washington in the first round of last season's playoffs.

"I didn't want it to happen," James said. "But I'm glad it's over."

The Lakers weren't intimidated in one of the NBA's rowdiest arenas and went undefeated on a road trip that also included stops in Minnesota, Memphis, New York, Toronto and Boston. Los Angeles' trip started rocky with center Andrew Bynum injuring his knee against the Grizzlies, but it couldn't have ended any better.

Beginning with Bryant's record-setting 61-point performance against the Knicks, the Lakers have gone 4-0 without Bynum. They didn't commit a turnover in the final 19:28 against the Cavs.

"We're playing for perfection," Odom said, "and in order to do that, it takes a lot of energy, focus and commitment to winning and doing whatever it takes. We got production from everyone."

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 22 to lead Cleveland, which shot just 28 percent (11-of-39) in the second half and didn't play its customary shutdown defense. Williams, whose all-star snub had infuriated the Cavs, scored 19 and James finished with 12 assists and eight rebounds.

Odom, who added a season-best 17 rebounds, was unstoppable in the third, when the Lakers outscored the Cavaliers 31-16 and turned a 10-point deficit into a 82-77 lead entering the fourth.

Guarded by Wally Szczerbiak and rookie J.J. Hickson, Odom scored 13 of Los Angeles' last 16 points to close the quarter, capping his one-man scorefest with a two-handed dunk off a miss in the final second as the Lakers became just the fourth team this season to lead Cleveland at home after three.

Unlike the three other teams, the Lakers finished the job.



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