The Cleveland Cavaliers were blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers 116-97 on Saturday at Arena, a troubling continuation of their late-season struggles as the playoffs fast approach. The loss pushed the Cavs to 3-7 in the last 10 games and 46-32 overall, just a half game up on the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks with four left to play in the regular season.

After the game, coach J.B. Bickerstaff addressed what went wrong for the Cavs in Los Angeles.

“We did some really good things in spurts,” he said, per Chris Fedor of “We just couldn’t sustain it for long enough to come out with a win today. Thought guys competed and shared the ball. Shots didn’t go for us. The turnovers bit us in the butt. It’s about finding that level and continuing to sustain it. Didn’t do enough to get it done.”

Cleveland trailed by double-digits at halftime, struggling to contain the Lakers’ surging offense while shooting just 5-of-17 from three-point range. The wine-and-gold responded quickly out of intermission, using a 16-2 run to take the lead midway through the third quarter. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and company immediately righted the ship and never looked back, though, extending their halftime lead heading into the final stanza before keeping the Cavs at full arm’s length late.

Donovan Mitchell’s labors continue as Cavs risk tumble in standings

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) moves the ball up court against the against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Arena

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland lost its brief second-half lead in large part due to defense, but Saturday’s defeat was the result of shoddy, inconsistent offense more than anything else. The Cavs’ 96.0 offensive rating was their third-worst single-game mark of the season, per, no surprise as they shot just 31.4% from beyond the arc and Donovan Mitchell failed to shake off his ominous recent labors.

Mitchell finished with 10 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks, shooting 4-of-13 overall and 2-of-9 from three-point range, clearly limited by a lack of burst and explosiveness related to nagging knee pain. The reigning Second Team All-NBA honoree is averaging just 14.3 points on 33.3 percent shooting in six appearances since making his initial mid-March return from a bone bruise in his left knee, a stint during which he also missed time recovering from a broken nose.

“He is used to being Donovan and he wants more from himself,” Bickerstaff said of Mitchell. “He is working his way to try to get there. Can’t take the competitor out of him and he is just competing his tail off and trying to give us everything he has. Right now, he is struggling a little bit. But he is competing, leading and trying to help us get over this hump. That’s why he is out there on the floor.”

Mitchell recently opened up on the mental effects of playing through lingering discomfort that’s left largely absent the dynamic athleticism that’s made him a superstar. While his injury apparently can’t get worse by taking the floor and there’s “nothing structurally wrong” with his knee, it’s clear Mitchell is a long way from 100% as the most critical juncture of the season dawns.

“It’s nothing crazy. Nothing structurally wrong. Nothing to be concerned about,” he said following Wednesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, per Fedor. “I’m not going to make things worse by doing what I’m doing. That’s a blessing. I think it’s just putting it all in perspective. Minute by minute, if you can take those little steps and not skip steps, that’s the biggest thing. Ultimately, you go out there and play. That’s part of the process. Just taking it step by step and not getting frustrated. This is a really tight time of year. The best thing for it is rest. But we don’t have time for that. Just be myself, continue to build, continue to get better and when the playoffs come, do my thing.”

There’s no use resting Mitchell once the playoffs begin, which is why Cleveland is taking a cautious approach to his health over the last few games of the regular season. He’s already been listed as out due to injury management for the second half of the Cavs’ back-to-back against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, risking Cleveland falling to fifth-place in the East, losing home-court advantage in a potential first-round series.