The Mavericks lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 111-108 Sunday afternoon in Dallas. After starting the game hot from three, the offense stalled out and the Lakers were able to wear them down through physical play and hardnosed defense. Anthony Davis led Los Angeles with 30 points and 15 rebounds while Luka Doncic was the high point man for Dallas with 26.
The first quarter was anything but aesthetically pleasing. Early on, both offenses struggled to create space, but the Mavericks were aided by moments of individual brilliance by Luka Doncic. The Lakers knew they had a mismatch anytime Davis touched the ball in the post but the Mavericks did a decent job of mucking things just enough to make things difficult for him. Midway through the first, Josh Green came and had an instant impact with his hustle and energy. There was one particular sequence where he drove and made a superb pass to Reggie Bullock which Bullock unfortunately bricked. Green hunted down the offensive rebound then made a pass to a wide-open Christian Wood who also missed a wide-open look. It turned out to be an empty possession, but it was clear that Green’s movement and energy would prove to be useful. The play of the quarter, however, was a last second block by Tim Hardaway Jr. which led to an immediate assist a few seconds later. The quarter ended with the Mavericks up 28-16.
Hardaway kept things going with back-to-back three point shots to open the second quarter. The Lakers, on the other hand, struggled to defend basic pick and rolls and gave up a number of wide-open looks. With about five minutes left in the half, the Lakers were 1-of-18 from 3 while the Mavericks were a scorching 13-of-21. To end the half, the Lakers practically overwhelmed the Mavericks with their physicality Lebron and Davis were able to get downhill and put pressure on the Maverick’s front court. Luka appeared visibly frustrated at the lack of calls and his constant complaining helped the Lakers get out in transition. After some and-1s and a timely Malik Beasley three pointer, the Lakers had managed to cut the lead down to 14 points. The half ended with the Maverick’s up 61-47 with the momentum clearly on the Lakers’ side.
The third quarter was an extension of the end of the first half. The Lakers played bully ball and Dallas was powerless to stop it. Davis and Lebron simply went through Dallas defender after Dallas defender. Dwight Powell tried to be a deterrent, but he simply doesn't have the size and strength to compete with those type of freight trains. The Dallas “offense” was a disaster. Coach Jason Kidd and company rolled the ball out and asked Luka and Kyrie Irving to bail them out. There was no plan of attack or gameplan. At the end of the third, it was 81-78, Dallas.
In the fourth, neither team covered itself in glory. The first eight minutes were full of turnovers, missed shots, and defensive lapses. There were are number of lead changes and the game went back and forth until crunch time. After a TV timeout with 3:43 left, the score was 98-97 with the Mavericks clinging to a one-point lead. Down the stretch, it was once again the Davis and Lebron show. Davis had a turnaround jumper and emphatic put back dunk before Lebron drove in for as easy bucket. Dallas struggled to generate much of anything, and each possession ended with a contested, hero-ball type of shot. After another Davis turnaround jumper, Luka coughed up the ball with 12 seconds left and that was all she wrote. The game ended,
Jason Kidd, where art thou?
It’s difficult to pinpoint what the Mavericks strategy is on the offensive end of the court. Sure, they run some ball screens and pick and rolls, but the weakside movement is mostly nonexistent. With two players capable of getting anywhere they want on the court; the coaching staff has to complement their talent and individual brilliance. Instead, the Mavericks two best players take turns playing in iso and the offense looks, well, stale. That cannot happen with Luka and Kyrie on the court. The offense ran by Scott Brooks when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shared the court was more imaginative.
The Mavericks are a finesse team
This team lacks rebounding and interior defense. This was the case before the Kyrie trade and will continue to be this team’s Achilles heel as it looks to make a deep playoff run. After the Kyrie trade, the team lacks physical wing defense as well. A healthy Maxi Kleber should help but it’s anyone’s guess when we will see him again and how quickly he can have an impact.
Christian Wood, in particular, is infuriatingly soft at times. Neither he nor Dwight Powell excel at finishing amongst the trees down low and their inability to defend the rim was the team’s downfall tonight. The Mavericks signed JaVale McGee for games like this and it’s damning that he was nowhere to be found.
The Mavericks lack depth
If Frank Ntilikina and Justin Holiday are the answer, then you are asking the wrong question. They’re simply not good enough. While his in-game strategy can and should be questioned, the lack of depth handcuffs Kidd. There aren’t any credible options off the bench, and he has no way of giving teams a different look. This team is what it is and now it’s up to Kidd to try and maximize what little talent he has at his disposal.
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