Lakers Starters Explode Offensively in Rout of the Mavericks

If there were any questions about whether the Lakers returning to their old starting lineup would work, that group is doing their best to put an end to them, and quickly. That group combined for 105 points on Wednesday night, helping move the team to 2-0 since the lineup change and back to .500 on the season in a 127-110 blowout of the Mavericks.

The Lakers did a great job of pulling away in the 2nd half of this game, outscoring Dallas 72-57 in the last 24 minutes after going into intermission with just a two-point margin. The starting group really put their imprint on the game in those opening minutes of the 3rd quarter in particular, pushing the lead to double digits within the first four minutes of the period and never looking back after that.

Key to the offensive explosion in this game was Anthony Davis who just missed his second triple-double in three games by a single assist, scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to go along with his nine dimes. Davis connected on 12 of his 17 shots overall, dominating Dallas all over the court not only with his own shot making, but burning them with smart and timely passes when they sent extra defenders in his direction.

Davis’ comfort absorbing double teams allowed the Lakers to get the Mavericks into rotation, and even on plays in which his first pass did not directly lead to a bucket it started the sequence of ball movement that helped the offense stay one step ahead of Dallas’ defense and get good shots on many of their possessions. The result was 53.8% shooting from the field and 33 assists on the team’s 49 made baskets.

Joining AD with a great night offensively was D’Angelo Russell who led the Lakers with 29 points of his own to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Russell was blistering hot from behind the arc, hitting five of his seven attempts from deep and 11 of his 20 shots overall and showing off an eclectic and artistic arsenal that kept the Mavericks guessing of when or even how he would get a shot off in the first place.

Not to be outdone and joining both Russell and AD in the 20+ point club was LeBron, who scored 25 points on 10-19 shooting along with eight rebounds and eight assists. With the offense running beautifully though Davis and with Russell’s shot making proving so dangerous, LeBron was content to pick and choose his spots and exerting himself into moments where it was important to seize momentum and thrust his team forward.

James expertly navigated the pace and flow of the game, hunting transition opportunities, not just by pushing the ball up court himself for his own offense, but via the pass to streaking teammates who could make the defense pay for not getting back in time. Jarred Vanderbilt was great in this regard, bringing great energy to running the floor and looking to payoff LeBron’s wonderful court vision.

With the Lakers scoring the ball so well, it would be easy to overlook their defensive effort in this one, but they did a great job of contesting the Mavericks shooters and not allowing a team that had been really scoring the nets lately never find their groove. Luka Doncic was wonderful with triple-double of 33 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists on 12 for 24 shooting, but the Mavs as a whole connected on 46.2% of their shots and hit just 11 of their 40 attempts from behind the arc (27.5%).

Dallas also committed 15 turnovers (to just 10 for the Lakers), which the Lakers used to help fuel their offensive attack to the tune of 20 points off those miscues. Add in the Lakers committing just 15 fouls on the night while making the extra effort to get out to shooters, and this really was a complete game on both sides of the ball in which everyone contributed to the victory in the minutes they played.

The Lakers will try to keep this momentum going when they return to action on Friday when they host the Brooklyn Nets.

Gideon Canice

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