Less than 24 hours after hitting 24 three pointers in one game, the Mavericks’ bombs missed the mark in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers as the team went 1-for-10 from behind the arc. Tim Hardaway Jr. injured his hamstring on a breakaway dunk and was immediately ruled out, and the Mavericks offense clearly looked like it was missing one of it’s primary shot makers as the Lakers took a 25-19 lead after one.
The Lakers dominated the second quarter, even with LeBron James receiving reprieve, and this particular sequence was especially ominous: After two Dallas triples cut the lead to four, Anthony Davis made a 10-foot bucket. Porzingis proceeded to step out of bounds on the sideline which resulted in a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three. Rick Carlisle called a timeout and was awarded a technical in the process, which Davis made the freebie. On the next Mavericks’ possession, Doncic coughed the ball up, and the Lakers responded with a Dwight Howard dunk. Just like that the Mavericks were down 10, and later in the quarter, Doncic took a hard spill landing squarely on his lower back and was forced out of the game with 2:02 in the half. After all was said and done, the Lakers took a 54-43 lead into the break.
Dallas struggled out of the break with ugly shot selection and a plethora of miscues. The Lakers picked off a handful of Maverick passes and had a layup line to the basket. In all the Lakers scored 20 of the 30 points 10 feet or closer as the Mavericks posed no resistance. Rick Carlisle opted to break the J.J. Barea glass, and the offensive was able to make a few extra shots, but defensively, the Mavericks were a mess as the Lakers took an 84-69 lead into the final frame.
The Lakers comfortably put the game away in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks failed to make any real threat to the lead. And any time Dallas did look like they would string together a few points, the Lakers responded, particularly with Caldwell-Pope threes, who totaled 19 points off the bench. Led by Davis’ 23 points and James’ 13 points and 13 assists, the Lakers took care of the Mavericks 108-95.
Though Dallas was dominated from the opening tip, there’s some solace in the fact that the Mavericks were able to keep the Lakers from completely blowing the doors off the game even on a night Doncic was completely out of sorts and the bench was thoroughly outplayed. Dallas shot only 36 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc.
On to some notes:
Luka Doncic was horrendous
It started with Avery Bradley’s hounding, if not illegal, defense, but Doncic was out of sync from the opening tip. He missed his first three shots and didn’t score his first basket until 4:41 in the first quarter. He looked a little hobbled early on but really seemed out of it after he took the hard fall late in the second quarter.
With Hardaway exiting early, the Mavericks were sorely missing another shot creator and someone who could bail the team out with difficult buckets. The Lakers were able to key on on Doncic, making him visibly uncomfortable and frustrated all night. Doncic finished the night with 19 points on 5-of-14 shooting (0-of-6 from three) with seven assists and six horrible turnovers. He had a sequence toward the end of the third where he almost fumbled his way to three consecutive turnovers. Doncic is an MVP candidate, but he simply didn’t have it tonight in his second game back from injury.
The Mavericks were manhandled
A night after setting a franchise record for three pointers made, the Mavericks put on a pitiful display of shooting, but interestingly enough that wasn’t the biggest blemish on the night. The Lakers simply had their way, and Dallas failed to provide any resistance. The Lakers connected on only nine threes which was fine considering the Mavericks rolled the red carpet right down to the basket for Hollywood’s team. Los Angeles scored 54 points in the paint, and Dallas successfully made Dwight Howard look like 2010-11 Howard with 15 points. It was easy for most of the Lakers big men, as Davis, Howard and Javale McGee combined to go 19-of-25 from the field.
The Lakers defense was suffocating, forcing the Mavericks into 18 uncharacteristic turnovers and a poor shooting night. There was nothing easy, and several players got in their own heads when the whistles weren’t blown.
Seth Curry and Maxi Kleber were no shows
It was already important coming into the night that the Mavericks’ bench outplayed the Lakers’ bench, and it became increasingly paramount once Hardaway went down. But the Mavericks were let down by two of the most important bench players in Curry and Kleber as the two combined for 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting (2-of7 from three). Curry recorded zero assists which wounded Dallas as Doncic struggled, and Kleber grabbed only three rebounds and recorded zero blocks as the Lakers waltzed their way to the rim time and time again. Neither player attempted a free throw on a night the Mavericks desperately needed easy points. Kleber has been shooting well, and Curry seems to finally be finding his stride, so maybe they were due for a dud. These nights happen. But with Doncic and Porzingis both failing to make their mark, it was unfortunate timing for Curry and Kleber to come up empty.
Dallas falls to 21-11 and gets a hot Oklahoma City Thunder squad in OKC on New Years Eve.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.