The Stars came out in full force in Game 2 of the NBA’s Christmas Day roster as LeBron James and Luka Doncic performed in the Dallas Mavericks’ 124-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite his best efforts, James couldn’t help the visiting Lakers hold on to their early lead, as the Mavericks rocked them offensively during the third quarter. Dallas put up a historic 51 points, a Christmas Day record, which proved too much for Los Angeles to beat.
While Doncic would grab the bulk of the headlines with his near triple-double performance of 32 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, the Mavericks All-Star got plenty of help on the offensive end as Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for 56 points. point in winning. On the other end of the spectrum, LeBron put up the kind of superstar numbers we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the years finishing with 38 points, six rebounds and five assists, but the rest of the Lakers couldn’t give him enough support. To get the job done on the road.
With the win, Dallas improved to 18-16 on the season while Los Angeles fell to 13-20.
1. The Mavericks exploded in the third quarter to blow up this game
Things couldn’t get any worse than what the Mavericks did in the first half against the Lakers. Shooting 39.5 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from 3-point range, they fell 11 points behind a Lakers team that was without Anthony Davis. Based on how bad things were in the first two quarters, Dallas was bound to turn things around, but no one could have predicted the 51-point outbreak that the Mavericks put on the Lakers, using a 20-5 run to go up 82-65 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
By the end of the third frame, Dallas was leading to 94-75, and its 51-point total was not only a Christmas Day record, tying the Mavericks record for most points in a single quarter, but also the highest single-quarter points total this season. It all happened thanks to nine 3s, four of which came from Tim Hardaway Jr. who scored 16 of his 26 points in the third quarter. Doncic also joined in the fun in the third quarter, scoring 13 of his 32 points over those 12 minutes, and dishing out six assists in the process.
It wasn’t like the Mavericks were doing something stylistically different in the third quarter, it was as simple as players dropping hits. This has been the story of Dallas all season. When this team cooks from a 3-point zone, it’s hard to beat. The Mavericks have produced the second-most 3 wide open doubles this season, but in terms of their hits, they’re in the middle of the pack at 38.1 percent, and rank 15th in the league. The first half was the Mavericks’ version of it with its wide open look, while the third quarter was a sharp swing the other way with nearly every shot ahead. It’s not sustainable going forward, but it’s a positive sign that Dallas can turn things around in the middle of the game and see players like Reggie Bullock, who have struggled badly, come out of the doldrums.
2. LeBron James vs. Everyone
We already knew James would have to do everything in order to have a chance for the Lakers in this game, because without Davis on the floor there wouldn’t be much depth behind their superstars. But even so, LeBron outperformed the other four Lakers players, who collected only 32 points. Russell Westbrook did his best to provide some assists off the bench, with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Austin Reeves had a quiet 16, but when you don’t have other players to score in double digits, you’re not going to win many games. . Especially when the team is shooting 32.1 percent from 3-point range, a long-running problem for the Lakers this season. Los Angeles ranks 26th in the league in 3-point percentage, and they’ve shot a hair below their season average, proving that once again this team desperately needs shooters to compete in the West. Even LeBron has gone 0 out of 4 from deep, but when he does everything else on offense, that’s just a blip on the radar.
There was some hope in the first half, when the Lakers were shooting 53.5 percent from the field and sending double teams to Doncic on every home run, which forced every Mavericks player to put up points, which they struggled for. The Lakers built 14-point leads on two separate occasions in the first half, but once Dallas started blazing from deep in the first half, Los Angeles didn’t have the weapons to keep up.
It’s the latest example Lakers fans use to show GM’s Rob Pelinka that this team needs to make one move — or several — if they want any chance of making the playoffs, or even turning a game.
3. Christian Wood explains why he stayed in the starting line-up
For the sixth straight game, Wood was in the starting lineup for the Mavericks, perhaps his best game in a Mavericks uniform. He finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four blocked shots and two blocks. He was a complete performer on offense, and even had several key defensive possessions, showing that he is more than willing to put in the effort on this end of the floor. Wood had 15 points in the first half, which was a major reason the Lakers’ lead was never greater than it already was, and he continued his solid play after the break as well.
It was the perfect timing for Wood to put in such an amazing performance, given that he is now Eligible for a four-year, $77 million contract extension. Wood is in the final year of his contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but if the Mavericks want to keep the big man away this season, signing him to a contract now might be the best option, because if he continues to improve the price will only go up. And given how things turned out with Jalen Bronson, where Dallas could have offered him a contract extension midway through the season but squandered the opportunity, only to lose it to the Knicks as an unrestricted free agent last summer, they may not want that to happen again if their plan is to keep Wood. past this season.
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