Do the Dallas Mavericks have what it takes to compete in the Western Conference this season?
Friday night’s performance against the Los Angeles Lakers gave us a glimpse.
The Mavericks, playing one of the favored teams in the conference led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, held their own but ran out of a gas in a 119-110 overtime loss at a sold out American Airlines Center.
Dallas appeared poised to pull out the win in regulation but Dwight Powell missed one of two free throws, giving the Lakers a chance to tie with six seconds remaining. Danny Green’s 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer sent the game to OT. It was a shot made particularly vexing for the Mavs because replays showed Dwight Howard clearly holding Seth Curry, who was trying to get to Green to defend the shot. In overtime, the Lakers had too much left in the tank, outscoring the Mavs 16-7.
“I’m still there to take away that pass, and then he grabbed me and it was a no-call right in front of the official,” Curry said. “It’s just unfortunate.”
James was on top of his game, but so what second-year budding superstar Luka Doncic, who had 31 points and collected the 10th triple-double of his career. He had a career-high 15 assists and 13 rebounds. James, however, also had a triple-double and finished with a game-high 39 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. It’s the 82nd triple-double of his career, fifth most all-time.
“You see it when he gets that look in his eyes,” Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel said of James. “He had it in the third quarter. He really just changed the momentum of the game and put it in our favor.”
Doncic had his — his second this season — before the third quarter was over. It’s the most by a player younger than 21. Magic Johnson had seven and James had five. The 14-year age difference between James (34) and Doncic (20) is the largest in league history for players with triple doubles in the same game. James gave Doncic a hug after the game and praised his performance.
“He’s been my idol since the beginning,” Doncic said of James. “I can play against him and play a game like that. The words he said after the game were something really special to me.”
Doncic and James are the youngest and oldest players to put up a 30 point, 10 rebound, 15 assists game, according to NBA.com. And they did it going head to head.
Doncic took an elbow to the back of the head in the final minutes of regulation. He left the floor for the final seconds when the Lakers sent it to overtime. He returned for OT but head an ice pack on his head during timeouts and received three stitches after the game.
The Mavs’ two stars — Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis — were benched with early foul trouble. Both sat for the last half of the first quarter and much of the second.
Porzingis finished with 16 points, but only four came in the second half. Davis finished with 31 points and eight rebounds.
The Mavs led 22-8 before the Lakers pulled to within 25-20 by the end of the first quarter with both players off the floor for more than 10 minutes of the first half.
“I learned that we have a talented group,” Mavs’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “We have an amazing ability to make plays, but we have to work on the ‘next play’ mentality when things do get difficult. We were very close to being 4-1 and probably being the lead story on the morning talk shows tomorrow but now we’re 32 and we have to regroup and get on the plane to go to Cleveland.”