Luka and Slumping Mavs Can't Overcome LeBron's Big Night, Fall 129-114 at Home

Dalton Trigg

On a Friday night at home against the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks were hoping to rebound from Wednesday night's one-point loss to the Denver Nuggets. 

LeBron James made sure that didn't happen by completely overpowering the Mavs from start to finish in a 129-114 blowout. 

In 32 minutes, James finished with 35 points on 14-of-25 from the field and 3-of-6 from deep to go along with 16 rebounds and seven assists. With the loss, the Mavs finish with a 1-3 record in their season series with the Lakers.

"They were great,'' said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle of the 31-7 Lakers. "We have to give the Lakers credit. LeBron James was tremendous and all the supporting cast really stepped up and played well.”    

Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber took turns trying to guard James, but simply just couldn't do enough to slow him down. With the NBA trade deadline coming up, you can't help but think about what it would be like for the Mavs to have a bigger wing player like Andre Iguodala, Robert Covington, or even Jae Crowder to throw at James, should the two teams ever meet in the playoffs.

Despite being frustrated for most of the game, to the point where he ripped his jersey, Luka Doncic finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on 8-of-19 shooting from the field and just 1-of-5 from deep with six turnovers. Although that turnover number is bigger than it should be, it doesn't seem as bad when you consider that the officials let plays like this count as turnovers.

Additionally, though, Luka said, "I played really bad. I felt like I don’t know how to play basketball. It wasn’t me. I gotta get better. A lot.”

Although the Lakers got away with some of those plays on Friday night, this kind of thing has been happening to Doncic nearly every game lately. It's been so bad, that Rick Carlisle finally had to chime in recently to say, "Teams are beating the s--- out of him. ... It isn't right." 

To make things even worse, the NBA has acknowledged publicly in its L2M (Last Two Minute) report that the Mavs have been the victim of some no-calls in close games that resulted in losses. 

Carlisle was ejected from Friday night's game after the officials granted the Lakers a timeout nearly two seconds after the Mavs had already inbounded the ball. After review, the Lakers were not granted the timeout, but Carlisle remained ejected.

As frustrating as it is, there is no easy fix here, other than to hope that the officials start showing Doncic a little more respect. It's been a long time since Mavs' owner Mark Cuban has been fined for criticizing the officials. Perhaps it's time to give that a try again. The Mavs have a whole list of reasons for why they lost tonight's game and other games on their schedule recently, but the officiating shouldn't be on that list as often as it has been.

The Mavs have now lost five of their last seven games, and they desperately miss what their 'Unicorn' big man Kristaps Porzingis brings on both ends of the floor. Porzingis will miss at least one more game with a sore right knee, and could potentially return early next week. If anyone ever doubted how much Porzingis means to this team, these last six games with him out should have erased those doubts.

Dallas won't have long to dwell on the loss to the Lakers, as they'll take on the Philadelphia 76ers at home on the second night of a back-to-back. The 76ers will be without their star big man Joel Embiid, but as we saw in the Lakers game with Anthony Davis absent, that might not mean much if the home team doesn't show up with some fire in their bellies.

Not that ripping jerseys and coaches' ejections don't show some spirit ...

“In the leadership position, you have to stand up for your guys,'' Carlisle said. "There are some things going on out there (involving refs' non-calls) that are quite frankly shocking, and our guys are going through a rough time because of it. I have to stand up and defend them. That’s another part of my job and I’m going to do it. And I’ll do it again tomorrow.”    

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