Sunday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers had the feel of a potential second-round playoff preview. After all the Lakers entered the game with the Western Conference’s best overall record, while the Mavericks were No. 4.
Mavericks fans are hoping this isn’t how a potential playoff matchup could go, as the Lakers (26-7) defeated the Mavericks (21-11), 108-95, despite Lakers forward LeBron James scoring only 13 points.
James, who turns 35 on Dec. 31, made up for the lack of scoring — he was averaging 25.5 points per game entering the game— with 13 assists, lifting the production of the Lakers’ big men.
Anthony Davis (23 points), Dwight Howard (15 points) and JaVale McGee (11 points) combined for 46 points in the game, with Lakers coach Frank Vogel remarking at the end of the third quarter that the Mavs were playing a lot of zone defense and that opened up opportunities for that trio. Heck, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope pitched in 19 points off the bench, one of six Lakers in double figures.
The Mavericks, who played most of the game without Tim Hardaway Jr., shot 36.4 percent for the game, started the game 1-for-12 from the 3-point line and lost just their fourth road game of the season (12-4).
Doncic — who had a triple-double against San Antonio in his return to the floor on Thursday — had "just'' 19 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. The Lakers held Doncic 10 points below his season average and he had more turnovers (six) than field goals (five). Doncic also failed to make a 3-pointer.
Doncic, who missed a few games earlier this month after a sprained ankle, ended up falling to the floor after making contact with two Lakers on a drive late in the first half. The fall looked worse than it ended up being, as he hit both his lower back and head on the floor.
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Doncic left for the locker room on the next possession, after the Mavs fouled Lakers forward Dwight Howard. He returned to start the third quarter. Sunday’s game was Doncic’s 100th in the NBA.
“It was scary,” Doncic said. “I fell on my back and hit my head, my elbow. I was OK.”
Of perhaps greater consequence was the hamstring injury Hardaway Jr. suffered in the first quarter. He suffered the injury on a breakaway dunk after a steal and left the game with just two points. Hardaway entered the game as the Mavs’ third-leading scorer with 14.1 points per game.
Without Hardaway the Mavs needed time to find a third scoring option, and while the Mavs did that the Lakers pulled out to a 10-point lead late in the second quarter and maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half.
Delon Wright had 14 points off the bench for the Mavericks, while Dorian Finney-Smith had 12 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 11. Dwight Powell grabbed 11 rebounds to go with his seven points.
There was one nice milestone for the Mavericks in this one, courtesy of guard J.J. Barea, who scored 12 points.
But in the end, the Mavs were dissatisfied with themselves here.
“I think it was one of the worst games we ever played,” said Doncic. “We didn’t play like us and we had a tough night. ... Just a bad night for us, a really bad night. We played really bad.”