Well, I had mentioned it in the preview. The Lakers have trouble playing consistently in all four quarters. In fact, this game was a tale of two halves. The Mavericks bulldozed them in the second half and went on to win, 101-89.
Los Angeles started off well enough. They had runs of 15-0 and 10-0 and looked ready to break the game open; L.A. led by 11 at one point. The Mavericks hung around, though, as they kept forcing the game to slow down every time they got the ball. The Lakers countered by trying to turn it into a track meet. They ran out on breaks and in the halfcourt, they passed the ball around. Nick Young made all four of his threes, D’Angelo Russell scored 13 in the first half, and the Lakers led by seven at the half.
Then good Laker ball stopped after halftime.
The offense stalled and we saw the same frustrating rock pounding and lack of movement. On the other side, the Mavericks picked them apart with high screen and rolls all night. I said that the Lakers had to communicate often on defense as they tend to get lost in switches, which leaves for open threes. And I also mentioned that Dallas shoots a lot of threes. The Mavs made them pay as they cashed in on 14 of their 31 shots behind the arc (Lakers only made seven). The Lakers have played like this all month but this seems to be the most glaring loss out of all of them.
Going iso for the Lakers really played into the hands of Dallas. Mavericks wanted to play it slow and it’s exactly what they got in the second half. Dallas made the most out of their possessions and they outscored Los Angeles, 31-13, in the third quarter. For a 5:19 stretch in that period, L.A. did not score. The Lakers would only go on to score 32 points overall in the second half.
Wesley Matthews led the Mavs in scoring with 20 points. Harrison Barnes wasn’t as great in this game but he still did damage when he got the ball on the block; he had 17 points. But I had mentioned the guards that didn’t play in their first meeting that could have big games. Devin Harris went for 14 points while Deron Williams had 11 dimes. Dwight Powell energized the Mavs with 14 points and Dorian Finney-Smith made some big shots on the way to 12 points. Andrew Bogut was on a minutes restriction (he played 22) but he was immense in stopping the Lakers from doing damage inside the paint. Dallas also outboarded the Lakers, 42-34. (By the way, Dirk Nowitzki was a late scratch due to an illness.)
As for the Lakers, Julius Randle led the squad with 18. Nick Young started off hot but didn’t really put up too many shots after the first quarter; he had 17 points. Russell only scored two points in the second half after going for 13 in the first half. Jordan Clarkson actually played decent with 15 points and Thomas Robinson seemingly was the only guy hustling with 8 points and 10 boards. They probably could’ve gotten more points if… oh, I don’t know… they moved a little bit?
As we’ve seen in a lot of games this month, the Laker players seemed to be content to just stand there and pretend like they’re lampshades. Yes, I know they’re young and inexperienced. Heck, they’re probably even overconfident after they went 10-10. It’s like they think they can rest on their laurels and win games. No, they won games because they all worked together and weren’t being lazy and careless on both ends of the floor. You can’t make a delicious dish without putting the work in the kitchen. You can’t get the woman or man of your dreams by just watching and not talking to her or him. And you can’t win a basketball game by being flat-footed. A lot of basketball is predicated on movement. But everyone knows that and the Lakers should know that.
Either way, that’s the last game for the Lakers in 2016 (2-14 in December! Ouch!). Hopefully, 2017 will be better for the Lakers (and for a lot of us; I understand a lot of people have lamented how bad 2016 was). So Happy New Year, people, and stay safe.