The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 109-104 Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The Mavericks looked like they might run away with the game in the first half, but the Lakers roared back in the third quarter and made a game of it.
The Lakers started off the game sloppy, turning the ball over and making mental mistakes frequently. The Mavericks took advantage, and Luka Doncic turned in some highlight plays like this:
Luka Doncic gets revenge on the rim, Lakers, basketball, earth, everything with this putback dunk pic.twitter.com/KcUyJtUdoG— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) March 2, 2022
The Mavericks continued their dominance throughout the half, and went into halftime up 71-56. The offense was especially effective, scoring 41 points in the second quarter alone.
But the Lakers weren’t ready to just lay down and give up. They came out with more aggression in the third quarter, and more importantly, started hitting some 3-pointers. The Lakers went 7-of-12 from deep in the third, while the Mavericks went 1-of-9. They also benefited from six Mavericks’ turnovers, finally taking the lead.
Then it was the Mavericks’ turn to get more aggressive. Dallas had abandoned getting into the paint during the third quarter. But they went back to the hard work of attacking the rim, and the results paid off. They went on a 7-0 run midway through the fourth to take back the lead, and they never relinquished it.
Here are three things from the game:
Luka faced off against LeBron in the fourth quarter and succeeded
It’s well-known that LeBron is one of the players Luka idolized growing up. His game is similar to LeBron’s, as well. At the end of the game, Luka and the Mavericks prioritized getting LeBron switched onto Luka on isolations, and it worked. Luka was able to get into the paint against LeBron, breaking down the defense. He scored multiple times and got an assist to Dwight Powell that ended up putting the game out of reach for the Lakers.
It’s just a few buckets, but it’s probably something Luka will remember for a long time. He didn’t just beat the Lakers. He beat the Lakers by winning his matchup against LeBron in clutch minutes. That’s huge.
The Mavericks dominated the paint
Part of the reason Dallas ran up a huge lead in the first half was because they lived in the paint:
Impressive first half for the Mavericks, who shoot 55.6% overall. Most of their shots are coming in the restricted area. Dallas leads LA, 71-56. pic.twitter.com/AoZruscsqx— The Kobe Beef (@TheKobeBeef) March 2, 2022
In the third quarter, they went away from that, settling for long jumpers and 3-pointers, which they mostly missed. Coupled with the Lakers’ hot shooting from deep in the third quarter, they gave up the lead.
But in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks got back to what worked for them in the first half. The Mavericks went 8-of-11 in the paint in the final quarter, and only took seven shots from outside the lane. The most encouraging sign from this fourth quarter? Dallas took back a lead without catching fire from behind the arc. The Mavericks hit only one 3-pointer in the fourth. They ended up outscoring the Lakers 60-42 in the paint.
The supporting cast stepped up
The Mavericks have had several games this season where Luka scored 30 or more points, but got nothing from his teammates. It’s not unusual for the starters to go a combined 1-of-12 from deep and all score in the single digits. Or for the bench to score less than ten points combined.
But not tonight. Jalen Brunson went 4-of-6 on 3-pointers and scored 22 points. Spencer Dinwiddie scored 14 points off the bench, but more importantly, dished out nine assists. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points on 3-of-7 shooting from deep, but also grabbed nine rebounds.
Guys filled up the box score all night, and it’s a big reason they won. If the Mavericks can get consistent contributions up and down the roster like tonight, they’ll be a team no one wants to face in the playoffs.
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