The Mavericks returned from a 17-point deficit
With LeBron James and Kristaps Porzingis out due to injuries, Saturday night’s Los Angeles Lakers-Dallas Mavericks game lost some luster, but there was still plenty of action on the court. The Mavericks overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half to win 108-93.
Luka Doncic and Co. fought early, as the Lakers were determined to get the ball out of their hands. But after half-time regrouping in the locker room, he and the team did much better to deal with the pressure. Doncic ended with 18 points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists, and in the second half, the Mavericks outscored the Lakers by 27 points.
The Lakers played well early, frustrating Doncic, shooting the ball well from the 3-point line. They were simply unable to maintain any factor for the full 48 minutes, and the lead quickly evaporated as they went cold and the Mavericks found things out. Anthony Davis extended his playtime to 25 minutes, but fought again, scoring 17 points from the field on 5 of 19.
Here’s some main game takeaways:
doncic was forced to facilitate crucial shots late.
Luka Doncic is already one of the NBA’s best stars, and as we’ve seen on numerous occasions this season, he’s more than capable of playing games. The Lakers tried their best to make sure they didn’t, and they had some success to their credit.
They trapped Doncic from every single pick-and-roll, preventing him from having too many looks at the basket, forcing him to give up the ball. That strategy worked well early. Doncic flipped the ball six times, and his teammates couldn’t knock down goals.
But as the game continued, Doncic slowly began to figure things out, picking apart the Lakers’ defence. In the second half alone, he dished out 10 assists, some of which went to Dwight Powell for wide open slam dunks. After a first-half uncharacteristically low-scoring, those quick buckets were critical to bringing the Mavs back on track.
Of course, he still had to get into the scoring action and had some big shots down the stretch. His step-back 3-pointer over Dennis Schroder was crazy.
Davis plays, but struggles
Anthony Davis returned to court earlier this week in the Lakers’ first game against the Mavericks after missing over two months with a calf strain. Due to a strict minute limit, it was a very uneventful return in which he scored four points on two of ten attempts from the field.
Game 2 on Saturday night wasn’t any better. He was able to increase his playing time to 28 minutes and, with the exception of a brief scare when he came up with liming after struggling for a rebound, it appeared that everything went well on that front.That was the only good thing about the game, though.
As predicted, on the offensive end, he’s still rusty, having a rough night shooting the ball again. He put up 17 points this time, but went 5 out of 19 to get there. You kind of expect certain games after a player misses too much time, but that doesn’t make it easier when they actually happen. Of course, the Lakers need Davis to be stronger, and there’s little doubt he’ll be once he finds his groove.
Powell’s almost hits career-high
Win or lose, the Lakers in this game didn’t let Doncic put 30-plus on them, which meant the Mavericks needed someone to step up. Dwight Powell, who shot 11 of 12 for 25 points and nine rebounds, was that someone.
Powell’s near-perfect performance was not only his best after returning from a torn Achilles tendon, but one of his best in his career. So far, he’s had an up-and-down season, but what he did on Saturday night was a reminder of how valuable he can be to this squad.
Obviously, Dallas runs a lot of pick-and-roll—28.7 percent of their possessions, to be exact—often with Doncic as the initiator. We know he can build these situations for himself, but when teams trap him as much as the Lakers did, he needs reliable escape valves.
And while the Mavericks rightly surrounded him with a lot of shooting, Powell offers another choice as a vertical rim threat. That’s definitely important in this game. When the outside shots didn’t fall, Doncic found Powell on the roll inside, which provided a lot of easy points and opened up more space for the shooters to spread the floor.
The Lakers’ front-court rotation included
At times this season, the Lakers’ frontcourt depth was a problem due to injuries, but with Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol safe, and Andre Drummond in the mix since entering the buyout market, things are getting crowded.
That means less time for everybody, and Montrezl Harrell was the odd man out on Saturday night. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel clarified he tried to keep everyone involved. “We must sharpen all three centres,” Vogel said. “[Harrell] was fine, understood.”
But while Vogel tried to keep things upbeat, Gasol made it clear there was no simple solution. “There’s no perfect scenario for anyone,” Gasol said. “Whatever the coach needs us to do…… it’ll take a lot of buying in.”
Well, well then! Anything to keep an eye on the stretch.
Mavericks get crucial playoff win
This was the Mavericks‘ third straight victory and their second straight over the Lakers. As a result, they’re now 33-26 on the season, sitting all alone in the Western Conference’s sixth position, and are suddenly just 1.5 games behind a Lakers team that still doesn’t have LeBron James.
The main target of the Mavericks over the last few weeks of the regular season will still be holding off the Portland Trail Blazers and avoiding the play-in playoffs, but they’re now right there in the No. 5 seed race and own the Lakers’ season tiebreaker.
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