Focus is back on Bryant
For the first time since the 2004-05 season, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant isn't scoring at least 30 points a game.
He heads into a nationally televised game at 3:30 today against the Cavaliers averaging 27.7 points a game.
"His field-goal attempts have gone down," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He's taking quality shots. With Lakers center Andrew Bynum out, he's stepped up his shots.
"Andrew Bynum helped ease that scoring load some. (Bryant has) relinquished it some, in trying to get some other guys some shots. He could come back with 40 on us."
Kobe Bryant matched that total in a loss at Dallas on Friday, and added 10 rebounds and five assists. It was his 88th career 40-point effort.
He trails only Cavs forward LeBron James (29.6) in scoring in the NBA. He's also averaging 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists and is shooting 44.8 percent from the field.
The Cavs (23-19) have won their last four meetings against the Los Angeles Lakers (27-14), including a 94-90 decision on Dec. 20 at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Lakers, though, are 7-1 lifetime against the Cavs at the Staples Center. Bryant has averaged 31.2 against the Cavs in the last five meetings.
"It's going to be tough going into L.A. to face the Lakers, especially with the way Kobe is playing," Brown said. "If we go in and concentrate on the things we need to do, and understand that we have to grind it out and get stops, we can give ourselves a chance to win."
This three-game journey, which also includes stops in Portland and Seattle, is the last West Coast trip of the season for the Cavs.
James is on another tear. In his last seven games, he's averaging 32.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 6.9 assists. He's also shooting 50.3 percent from the field during that span.
The Cavs have won 11 of their last 14 games. They dropped a devastating 110-108 verdict to Phoenix on Friday.