Extra! Extra! (2.12)
It is, after long last, over. That's about the best thing you can say about the Lakers eight game roadie (unusual enough to be mentioned here) that ended Sunday afternoon in Cleveland with a 99-90 loss. To put things in perspective, it was their longest trip since 1989, when the music charts looked something like this, back when Bobby Brown was in the news more for his music than his (disturbingly watchable) reality show. So the Lakers limped home at 3-5 over the octet, a far cry from the 6-2 Phil Jackson was looking for. Not that they didn't have their chances, but in the end, a lack of defensive intensity (and communication) broke them down. Oddly, it wasn't LeBron who did them in down the stretch Sunday, but Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic. If this were an Orlando Magic game, Brian Hill would be saying, "You can't let the Anderson Varejao's and Sasha Pavlovic's of the world beat you." It was all part of the whuppin' the Cavs bench put on L.A.'s, as the box score shows. At least Vlad Radmanovic responded to some harsh Jackson criticism with his best effort in a while, though he sat in the fourth when the Lakers went small.
One of the littles that finished the game? Mo Evans, who has been all or nothing from the floor lately. So has L.O., though unfortunately, that equation has been short of "all" more often than not since his return. Then there's all the snipping, and the growing daylight between the W.C.'s top teams and L.A. (by the way, who's going to sneak in behind them?). Given all that, it's no surprise to see the Lakers slide a bit in the ESPN.com Power Rankings.
No slide for Kobe, who still ranks #1 in the NBA Jersey Rankings (it's about the hoops, people!), but a big drop for Atlanta, whose airport stores have apparently taken a huge hit in Phil Jackson's Sundries Shop Rankings.