On Friday night the Dallas Mavericks played the Los Angeles Lakers in a Christmas Day matchup. The Mavericks are coming off a 106-102 loss to the Phoenix Suns to start their season and look to get in the win column as they continue their opening road trip.
On Wednesday, the Mavericks opened their season by getting off to a slow start going 0-6 to start the game versus the Phoenix Suns. The Mavericks are coming into this game shooting an ugly 42.4 percent from the field. Of course it was one game but if the Mavericks continue to shoot poorly and get off to slow starts then they won’t stand a chance in the very tough western conference.
The Los Angeles Lakers were coming into this game looking to bounce back from their opening day loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, that saw them receive their championship rings. This is a very important season for the Lakers as they look to defend their title. The Lakers had a busy offseason that featured acquiring Mark Gasol and Dennis Schroder. LeBron James is coming into this season after averaging 25.3 points, 10.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds a game last season as he looks to get ring number five. The Lakers are among the favorites to win the western conference this season.
Entering this game versus the Lakers, the Mavericks beat the Lakers only once in four meetings last season with the only win coming on December 1st, 2019. Luka Doncic averaged 25.5 points per game against these Lakers last season while LeBron James averaged 28 points per game against the Mavericks. Overall, the Lakers lead the all-time series 113-48 against the Mavericks with the Lakers winning nine of the last eleven meetings. This will be the only time the Mavericks play the Lakers in the first half of the season.
The Mavericks started this game much better than they did with the Phoenix Suns by hitting their first three shots of game. The Lakers got hot midway through the first quarter by going on a 9-0 run. The Mavericks were spreading the ball around good, finding good shots, however the Lakers were taking advantage of the paint by scoring 18 points in the paint. Luka Doncic had a much better first quarter by spreading the ball around and finding the open man, something he couldn’t do versus the Suns in the first quarter. Doncic would finish with 8 points in the quarter. The Mavericks got the offense going early but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers would take a 33-30 lead. The Mavericks shot an impressive 55 percent by making 11-20 field goals in the quarter, compared to shooting 28 percent in the first quarter last game.
The Lakers found the three ball early in the second quarter by draining six from behind the arc coverting to 18 points. The Mavericks were able to force some turnovers on defense trying convert them into points but the Lakers defense were there to prevent that. The Mavericks improved their defense inside the paint but it allowed the Lakers to take advantage of the three ball. The Lakers were able to take the lead to 10 points midway through the second. The Mavericks were able to cut the lead to 5 but the Lakers were able to force it back to 12 late in the second where the score settled for 69-57 thanks to a Kyle Kuzma buzzer beating 3 point jumper. The Mavericks finished the half shooting 19-41 (46.3%) from the field and 6-12 (50%) from behind the 3 point arc. The Mavericks are finding good shots but it was the Mavericks defense that was struggling as they allowed too many three point field goals in the quarter. Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 11 points but it was Anthony Davis leading the game with 18 points up to this point. The Lakers were lights out in the first half by shooting 21-44 (61.4%) in the first half as the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis scored for a combined 32 points.
Coming out of the half, Rick Carlisle of the Mavericks had to take a quick timeout 42 seconds into the quarter thanks to the Lakers scoring two easy baskets inside the paint, that’s never a good sign and goes to show how poorly the Mavericks defense inside the paint is. The Mavericks had no answer for the Lakers offense as the Lakers were able to take good quality shots. At one point though, the Lakers went on a three minute scoring drought but the Mavericks weren’t able to capitalize on it. The Mavericks need to capitalize on moments like these to try and make a run before the game gets too far away. The Mavericks picked a bad time to go cold when the Lakers were struggling to put the ball in the basket midway through the quarter. The Mavericks tried to hang around in this game by knocking a couple of three pointers but they were simply getting out worked by the Lakers aggressiveness. Luka Doncic did everything he could in the quarter by scoring 12 of the Mavericks 28 points in the quarter. Montrezl Harrel had a decent third quarter by scoring 9 points for the Lakers. The Lakers are trying to put this game away by leading 99-85 at the end of the third quarter. The Mavericks defense was simply poor on all cylinders as they allowed 22 second chance points up to this point.
The Mavericks again were forced to call timeout early in the fourth quarter as the Lakers quickly jumped to a 17 point lead thanks to two quick baskets by the Lakers. The Mavericks can’t wait until Kristaps Porzingis returns back on the court as there was nobody helping Luka Doncic on the offensive end. The Mavericks finally found some rhythm on offense by scoring seven quick points cutting the lead to 10 points trying to comeback in this game. The Mavericks interior defense is a major problem if the Mavericks are going to remain competitive in the western conference, can’t allow teams easy points near the basket. The Mavericks tried one last effort to try to comeback in this game late in the quarter but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers picked the Mavericks defense a part, getting whatever looks they wanted.
This team improved much better on offense from last game but as the famous saying goes “Good defense leads to great offense”, that was the problem here as the Mavericks interior defense was awful and therefore impacted the Mavericks on the offensive end. This Mavericks team will be totally different once Kristaps Porzingis returns to action but they can’t afford to miss a beat with the extremely competitive western conference.
In the end, it was the Lakers taking a 138-115 victory as the Lakers offense exploded with the Lakers having big performances by Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Montrezl Harrel with Davis leading the way with 28 points. Luka Doncic did everything he could finishing with 27 points on 9-19 shooting (47.4%) from the field. The Mavericks made it a game early but it was the Lakers taking control most of the game and ultimately sealing the deal with a victory. It was nice to see Luka Doncic on the big stage in what hopes to be one of many Christmas Day games for the Mavericks. The Mavericks fall to 0-2 to begin the season something you can’t afford to do much in the western conference.
The Mavericks continue their road trip as they stay in Los Angeles with a matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. The Clippers are coming off a impressive win against the Lakers that saw Paul George going off for 33 points on opening night. The Clippers will enter this game looking to get off to a nice start to begin the season when they play the Mavericks, as they look to keep these Mavericks winless.