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3 thoughts after the Dallas Mavericks defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 104-101

Dallas required a thanksgiving miracle to hold on to a win

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night in Los Angeles, squeaking out a 104-101 win. Barely. Undeservedly. In the ugliest way possible. It’s a win, but a painful one as Dallas saw Dereck Lively II go down hard and leave the game with a lower back contusion.

Luka Doncic had 30 points and 12 rebounds, while running mate Kyrie Irving put up 28 points, going 4-of-8 from three (including a huge, game-saving make in the fourth). LeBron James was a monster for L.A., scoring 26 points – 16 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Questionable Quarter

The Lakers lead the league in fourth-quarter point differential, out-scoring opponents by 3.1 points per game, and they improved that number tonight.

After Dallas built a 20-point lead heading into the final frame, just about everything started going sideways for Dallas. The Lakers kicked it into high gear, the Mavericks were missing the presence of Lively. But it wasn’t just the defense; Dallas’s offense went as cold as it’s been all year. With 6:14 to go, nearly halfway through the quarter, Dallas had scored just two points to L.A.’s 19, closing their lead to five. Their offense was so cold that Dallas didn’t have a made basket from the floor until a Luka bank shot with 4:10 to go. They were 0-for-11 until that point.

Mind you, during all this, head coach Jason Kidd didn’t call any timeouts to regroup until the Mavs lead was down to two, 97-95, with just over two minutes to go. He also let a questionable out-of-bounds call go without challenging which granted the Lakers another possession in the middle of their monster run. Nobody, players or coaches, come out of this one looking all that impressive.

Two stars made two plays

In the twilight of the worst quarter of basketball Dallas has played in some time, after surrendering a 20-point lead in a single quarter, trailing 101-99, Kyrie Irving nailed a three, Dallas’s only made three in the quarter, on a pass by Luka Doncic to put Dallas up 102-101. On the ensuing possession, James tried to force a pass down low to a waiting Anthony Davis that was intercepted by Luka Doncic. From there on out it was free throws and a nail-biter of a miss by James at the buzzer, but Dallas escaped.

That’s what stars are supposed to do. When everything else has gone wrong, when no one else can make a play, even when you haven’t been able to get anything going, you flip the switch and make the clutch play.

There goes that defensive dream

It really was like two entirely different games. The first through the third, and then whatever happened in the fourth. Losing Lively no doubt hurt, but that doesn’t explain how putrid Dallas went on offense.

Things started off going so well. At halftime, the Mavs had surrendered just 46 points; their fewest all year. The defense was actually looking competent (granted, against a tired team missing two rotation players and relying on a 38-year-old.) But that’s what it takes sometimes to get your groove back! Seeing your work actually generates positive results. Improving the defense was something both the coaches and players have said repeatedly needed to improve. And, well, for a half, it did. Who knows how that will carry over after the disastrous final frame? Especially without Lively.

In the first half, Dallas was out-rebounding the Lakers, had more second-chance points, and had pushed the pace, scoring 15 fastbreak points in the first half to L.A.’s six. Maybe Dallas thought they could coast to the end against a team playing the second game of a back-to-back, down 20 and heading into the final quarter, but LeBron was determined to make Dallas earn their turkey tomorrow. They did, but maybe this is one of those games we put in the rearview and try not to do again.

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