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Minus Davis, Lakers fly by Mavericks thanks to James

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Dallas, TX– Luka Doncic ripped his jersey, while the Los Angeles Lakers (31-7) tore him and the Dallas Mavericks (23-15) apart in American Airlines Arena 129-114 on Friday night.

The victory is LA’s seventh-straight win as well as the clincher of their season series against the Mavs, winning 3-1.

LeBron James’ Historic Night

This is the first time in LeBron James’ career in which he’s finished with 35-plus points and 16-plus rebounds. Also, he surpassed Michael Jordan for fourth all-time in field goals made.

His decision making to start out was outstanding. He allowed plays to develop and made the right decision not only for himself but for his teammates. If he had the advantage, clear out and go to work. If he could draw two and kick to a wide open man, he allowed that play to happen.

Los Angeles nailed 10 threes, shooting 41 percent from long-distance. This was James’ doing with the way he’s able to garner attention. With Anthony Davis not in the game, the space Davis would normally take up now belonged to James. So, if he wanted to create out of the post, screen, roll and kick or throw the lob pass, he had that luxury.

The only problem was that he was making all the plays for himself and no one was making the plays for him. Here’s a stat: almost 73 percent of James’s shots this season are unassisted. He hasn’t been that guy that gets the ball on the swing or someone else created a collapse in the defense and he got it. Los Angeles is relying on James as really the sole playmaker. 

However, the way that he was able to lead this Lakers team in the absence of their second-best star really shows how valuable he’s been to his team. In addition, for the longevity of how he’s been able to stay this consistent, speaks to his greatness.

Lakers’ Size and Pace

In the NBA, you know a lot of teams are good at basketball. The Lakers made this game a measuring stick of how good Dallas is in track and field. Los Angeles, who is second in the NBA in terms of fast break points (18.1), finished with 26. 

When you have a guy like Davis or Dwight Howard and, to a degree, Javale McGee in the game, it’s normally rebound, get it to a guard, walk the ball up. In this contest, it was get the ball and push. It was not a game the Mavericks wanted to play. 

This is a long team as well. They were too big for the opposition and they did a great job of making it difficult for Luka Doncic. The rookie did finish with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on what was an off night (8-for-19 shooting, 8-for-13 from the free throw line).

However, he had six of the nine Maverick turnovers and it was much in large part because of how LA defended him.

The Lakers showed zone, making it hard to penetrate inside, especially when you have the interior forces they have defensively. The purple and gold scored 21 points off the nine Mavs turnovers.

Offensively, the team was able to get a lot of second chance opportunities. LA had 60 points in the paint and 12 offensive rebounds. This is a team uses their dominance inside and makes things tough offensive and defensively.

Be a Star in Your Role

The others played a solid game in Dallas, combining for 94 points, led by Kyle Kuzma (who had 26 points). With Davis out, Kuzma is now going to be looked at as the secondary scorer for LA. That is his role with this team now and for this to be a game he has without AD, he may find himself more minutes even when Davis gets back.

Now the rest of the club did their part as well, knocking down their shots. However, what was great about this performance was they ate the runs that the Mavericks gave them.

This team was the better team mentally. The Mavericks made their runs, LA didn’t panic. They slowed down, understood clock and made the plays that they were supposed to in the instances they were shown. Even with them going to a small lineup and being undersized because of the bigs being in foul trouble, they stayed true to who they were and got the job done.

That’s what James and Davis will need from these guys down the line.

Now that’s hard when you have two of the league’s top-five players. However, this will be a tough team come playoff time if you can get this level of production from your others. 

UP NEXT

Los Angeles will travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder on Saturday.

The Mavericks will welcome the Philadelphia 76ers into town on Saturday.

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