The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day, 138-115. Anthony Davis had 28 points, eight rebounds, and five assists to lead Los Angeles while Luka Doncic scored 27 points in defeat for the Mavericks.
Dallas opened the game against Los Angeles much crisper following their lackluster opening effort against the Suns. With Luka Doncic playing almost the entire quarter, the Mavericks kept within reach despite the Lakers running and scoring in transition and on second chance opportunities. Dallas trailed 33-30 after twelve minutes of action.
Things went sideways in the second quarter, with the bench unit looking discombobulated. Tim Hardaway Jr. kept the Mavericks in range, bailing out Dallas on a number of possessions. Dallas hung around despite repeated miscues because of numerous Laker turnovers. A last second Kyle Kuzma three extended the Laker lead to twelve; Dallas trailed 69-57 at the half.
The third quarter had the feel of waking up from a crappy holiday nap, with the Lakers scoring twice in a row and Rick Carlisle calling a timeout almost immediately. It didn’t get much better for Dallas, with Josh Richardson picking up his fourth foul soon after. The Mavericks found a scoring pace but as in the first half they were unable to secure rebounds and Los Angeles kept the pressure on. The Lakers extended their lead by two in the frame and the Mavericks trailed 99-85 heading into the fourth.
An oddly constructed unit started the fourth quarter, with Boban Marjanovic getting significant minutes, actually whittled the Laker lead to single digits. But a quick flurry of points following a Lakers timeout pushed the lead back to double digits. The Mavericks never recovered and ended up getting blown out, 138-115. They are now 0-2 and face off against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
Luka Doncic has to be better
Josh had an entire column about the trickle down effect of Luka not starting the game well for the Mavericks. But it’s worth bringing up again because with Doncic’s lackluster first half, Dallas was down just enough to where there’s not much more to add.
He’s not in good enough shape and it’s clear by the end of his time on the floor when shots are short and he’s frustrated with his own play. It’s a thing that’s hard to dance around because there’s not a great answer for why he’s not in good shape after having been in great shape in Orlando.
When playing really good teams, Luka Doncic has to be a lot better for the Mavericks to win. Until Kristaps Porzingis comes back, there are going to be games where this may not be very fun.
Rebounding is about effort and the Mavericks didn’t try hard often enough
The Mavericks got absolutely crushed on the boards. I’m going to leave the more detailed stats for our upcoming “Stats Rundown” piece, but suffice it to say that Dallas was pathetic on the boards and no one is exempt. Maxi Kleber led the Mavericks with five rebounds, to give you an idea how bad it was. I’m also pretty sure that Dallas didn’t score any second-chance points. Pathetic.
It comes down to effort. There was one play in the third where the ABC camera had that terrible sideline view, but we got a great look at Luka getting out worked by Kyle Kuzma. Dwight Powell doesn’t have the base or strength to box out. Willie Cauley-Stein, for all the crowing for him, had two boards in 14 minutes and looked listless and out of position. The Lakers are bigger at many positions, it’s true, but getting worked that early and often by Los Angeles is unacceptable. Six Lakers players had more rebounds than the Dallas leading rebounder.
Jalen Brunson has to break through the fog he’s playing in
A variety of bad shots that fell in the fourth against the Suns obfuscated just how bad Jalen Brunson was in the Phoenix game. No such flurry saved Brunson against the Lakers.
You may be thinking that I’m not being fair picking Brunson’s play to focus on considering how bad the Mavericks looked. Maybe so. But after his three terrible turnovers in 18 minutes against the Suns, he had three more credited to him in 14 minutes against the Lakers. He actually committed all three in just seven minutes of playing time and in my notes I had him down for two more that got added to the stat line of his teammates.
All of his decision making is bad, from his over dribbling, to his late passes due to over dribbling, to his shot selection. And it was mostly rough in preseason too. I’ve never been a big Brunson guy, but he’s way, way better than he’s been playing and if he doesn’t figure something out he’s going to have his minutes taken away. Maybe it’s the recovery from shoulder surgery that has him out of whack. Hopefully that he gets better with time. The Mavericks need him too.