LOS ANGELES — For the Lakers, it’s not a question of talent. It’s one of stamina.
How far can a veteran laden roster with two of the NBA’s biggest stars take them? On Sunday afternoon, it was roughly one half.
The energy of a crackling start faded against one of the West’s upstart teams, who have two stars of their own. The Lakers, who drained six dunks and notched 19 fast-break points in the first half, looked a step behind during a pivotal third quarter as the Dallas Mavericks (13-6) surged past them for a 114-100 win.
Maybe it was due: The Lakers (17-3) had been cruising on a 10-game winning streak, their longest of this decade, and played a host of tight games against some of the league’s lesser teams. With one of their most difficult stretches of the schedule directly ahead, there was speculation that softer games helped polish their NBA-best start.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis started the game with urgency, as if they acknowledged the buzz that the Lakers had been taking it a little too easy. James sparked the defense with three steals in the first four minutes, his hands appearing in Dallas passing lanes with breathtaking swiftness. Davis picked up as the game went on, spinning his way through the post and reaching high for a second-quarter alley-oop on his way to 20 first half points.
But their gears ground down, and after halftime, Dallas looked like the veteran team turning on the boosters. A back-breaking 17-0 run in the third quarter, fueled by second-year star Luka Doncic, proved to be the defining sequence of the game.
James would go on to finish with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Davis had 27 points and 10 rebounds. But Doncic’s 27-point, 10-assist statline was burnished by his first career win against the Lakers, who knocked him off in overtime last month.
The Lakers briefly looked game to push their way back in it, finding 10 straight points including a pair of 3-pointers by Alex Caruso. But Doncic snuffed that out too, leading a quick retaliation with an assist on a backdoor basket, a 3-pointer and a lay-up.
Dallas led by double-figures for the entire fourth quarter, reaching a high point when Doncic nailed a three over James as the game waned away. As a team, the Mavericks had 17 3-pointers to just seven by the Lakers.
More to come on this report.
Delon finds Justin on the cut!
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 1, 2019
— SportsDay Mavs (@dmn_mavericks) December 1, 2019