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Bet on the NBAAre the Los Angeles Lakers a safe bet for anyone anymore? Championship rings used to be a given for Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, and the rest of the LA team. But that was before they got beat by the Cleveland Cavaliers, extending their losing streak to three games. Now they go into the All-Star break having been beaten by the worst team in the league with one of the worst records in history.

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Cleveland is currently 10-46, while the Lakers have gone 38-19 so far this season, looking for another three-peat championship. But can a team that gets beaten by the Cavaliers really have a realistic shot at winning the NBA playoffs in 2011? There might just be too many other better teams, from the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference to the Chicago Bulls in the East.

So what went wrong? Just last month, the Cavs got annihilated by the Lakers, who won by 55 points in a lopsided 112-57. Last night's 104-99 loss for the Lakers must have been sweet revenge for Cleveland, which looked like a better team on the floor. The Lakers just looked lost on the court, like they had already checked out for the All-Star break. It may be understandable not to think of the Cavs as a professional-level team, but the Lakers made a huge mistake having checked out mentally.

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The Lakers last three games have all been losses leading up to the break. First, the team played Orlando this past Sunday and lost, but this was not a huge concern. More disappointing was a 20-point loss in Charlotte on Monday. But losing against the Cavaliers, who are 3-37 since November 27, should be enough to cause concern for any Lakers fan and basketball betting enthusiast.

So while the Lakers may be losing a bit of their shine, they Cavaliers are entering the break on a high point of the season. Losing by 55 points in LA a few weeks ago, it would have been easy to underestimate the Cavs. But the team played strong basketball for the entire game and came out with the win, a pretty unlikely turn of events for Cleveland fans, but one with somewhat erased the painful memory of the last game in Los Angeles.


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