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4 things from the Los Angeles Lakers’ drubbing of the Dallas Mavericks, 114-103

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night in LA, 114-103. Los Angeles was led by a 15 point, 12 rebound, 6 assist effort from Kyle Kuzma. Harrison Barnes was the high point man in defeat for Dallas with 29.

Dallas blew the doors off Los Angeles early, hitting threes and pushing the pace on Laker misses. After watching the Mavericks jump out to a 17-6 lead, Los Angeles responded with three quick points before Dallas turned up the intensity again. The Mavericks appeared ready to run away with the game when Luka Doncic stole a pass intended for the corner. He then tried to nutmeg Lonzo Ball and Ball stole the attempt and the Lakers got an easy dunk. This slowed the Maverick momentum just enough and when the bench unit came in Dallas was able to leave the quarter up 32-22.

The Maverick bench extended the lead to as many as fifteen points in the quarter before the Lakers found their legs. Following a quick timeout, the Lakers scored on five straight possessions to close the Maverick lead down to five. The hot shooting from Dallas cooled and the Lakers kept on the attack eventually closing the lead to three points. The remainder of the Maverick starting unit re-entered the game and Dallas was able to hold on to a small lead before halftime, up 58-53.

The third period opened with three straight Dallas turnovers but the Lakers were unable to capitalize. With the Mavericks unable to get anything going, Los Angeles chipped into the lead before finally taking it at around the nine minute mark. The Mavericks retook the lead with a push off a Laker miss via a Dennis Smith pass to Harrison Barnes for a lay up. Through Smith’s aggressiveness, Dallas extended the lead back to six before Kyle Kuzma started to heat up. A parade to the free throw line for the rest of the quarter kept Dallas close, but the Mavericks were simply unable to stop the Lakers from scoring baskets. Los Angeles took a 78-75 lead into the final quarter.

A parade of fouls from both sides started the fourth quarter. The Laker lead stayed between three to six points while the Maverick bench unit struggled to contain Lebron driving to the rim. Once the starters re-entered for Dallas things nearly got out of control with offensive rebounds resulting in easy Laker points. A Harrison Barnes three stopped the bleeding and cut the LA lead to six. But a Josh Hart three and a lot of Maverick misses resulted in Los Angeles taking a commanding lead. Dallas could get nothing to work offensively and couldn’t bother stopping the Lakers. Los Angeles piled on and ended the game 114-103.

Some final observations:

Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith have to be better

With Harrison Barnes lighting it up for most of the game, he got very little help from Doncic or Smith. While each are young and the occasional off-game is understandable, the Mavericks need at least one of them to be connecting on a given night to have a chance at a victory. The two shot a horrendous 5 for 29 with 8 turnovers between them.

Doncic in particular can’t afford to be this off. He’s been excellent from range this season but neither he nor the Mavericks found a way to get him an easy basket. While a number of his misses were the kind of in-between shots which are both difficult and have been his staple at times this season. Getting him at least a few easy looks needs to be an offensive priority.

Smith, at least, had one strong stretch in the third where he used his speed to affect the game in real ways. Yet against the Laker length he resorted to his habit of pounding the air out of the ball then choosing to drive into traffic with no real plan.

What would you say you do here, DeAndre?

It’s important to note that DeAndre Jordan is extremely important to the success or failure of this Dallas Mavericks team. That’s why his play is so very frustrating. A quick look at the box score, eight points, 12 boards, doesn’t reveal much but he’s just so listless on both ends of the court it’s hard to explain without a dive into the tape.

On offense, he sets bad screens, gets called for offensive fouls when rolling, and still attempts to be Wilt Chamberlain with needle-threading passing far too often.

On defense, he drops on every single pick and roll. This has to be schematic but Jordan is enormous and while I understand not wanting him to guard the perimeter, he doesn’t show ever, his hands are nearly always down, and he doesn’t actually defend the rim. With a team like the Lakers who relentlessly attack the paint, any sign of life from Jordan would have been nice. Instead he hugs his man or plays the rebound.

I don’t think Jordan stat-hunts on purpose. He’s been in the league far too long for what he does to be anything other than habit, but good gravy he’s too talented to be this devoid of true impact considering his statistical output. The Mavericks need more out of his talent.

Are we paying to watch the refs?

54 personal fouls. A half dozen technical fouls. 66 attempted free throws. Enough.

This game wasn’t very physical yet it was called as tightly as any game I can remember. I don’t pay for league pass to know the name of Scott Foster. Let the guys play and establish some game flow.

LeBron James remains terrifying

I suspect were I to look back at any LeBron games I’ve covered over the years that I’ve written a variation of this paragraph.

There’s nothing like the horror and awe LeBron with a full head of steam engenders in transition. I know many people do not care for him or his game but over the years I’ve grown to appreciate his near mastery of how basketball is played. It sucks we only get to see the Lakers one more time against Dallas this season because both of these contests have been a blast.