Los Angeles Lakers center Chris Kaman, left, and Cleveland Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller vie for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES — Luol Deng hit five 3-pointers while scoring 27 points, Anderson Varejao added 18 points and 18 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the spiraling Los Angeles Lakers 120-118 Tuesday night.
Dion Waiters scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers improved to 4-16 on the road. They also won for coach Mike Brown in his return to Staples Center to face the Lakers, who fired him early last season.
Jodie Meeks hit six 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 26 points in injury-plagued Los Angeles’ fifth straight defeat. Nick Young scored 28 points, but the Lakers have lost 11 of 12 heading into a punishing seven-game road trip.
Deng had five rebounds and four assists his first big game since joining Cleveland in a trade with Chicago a week ago. He led the Cavs to their highest-scoring regulation performance of the season, as they hit 13 of 17 3-pointers and outrebounded Los Angeles 48-35.
Deng and Waiters put the Cavs ahead during a 12-0 rally early in the fourth quarter, but Young hit three free throws with 25.3 seconds to play, trimming the lead to two points. Tristan Thompson missed two of four free throws in the final 16 seconds, but Young missed two late 3-pointers.
Brown coached just 71 games with the Lakers, who hired him to succeed 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson in 2011 and then pulled the plug on his tenure five games into last season. Brown expressed no hard feelings or regret about his brief tenure with the Lakers, saying he’s still on good terms with Kobe Bryant and other Los Angeles players.
Pau Gasol had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the Lakers’ only home game in a 22-day span. Los Angeles will be away for the next two weeks while the Grammys take over Staples Center.
Kendall Marshall had 10 points and 16 assists for Los Angeles, which had just nine players in uniform. Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry are all out with long-term injuries, and Gasol only determined he could play on his injured big toe after pregame warmups.
Gasol nearly suited up for this game in a Cleveland jersey, but the Lakers and Cavs couldn’t agree to a money-saving trade for former Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who would have been waived.
The Lakers looked impressive during a 40-point second quarter, but the third quarter has been the Lakers’ worst this season. Deng hit three 3-pointers in the first 2 minutes of the second half to put the Cavs back in front.
NOTES: Henry won’t return from the bone bruise in his right knee for at least another week, but he’s likely to be the first injured player back for Los Angeles. ... Nash won’t travel on the Lakers’ upcoming road trip, instead heading back to Vancouver for rehab on his assorted injuries. The two-time MVP hasn’t played since Nov. 10. ... F Earl Clark, who parlayed a decent season with the Lakers into a free-agent contract with Cleveland last summer, scored two points in five minutes.