NBA: Lakers looking to cool off Luka Doncic, Mavericks

LeBron James Lakers NBA

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to Thomas Bryant #31 during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Arena on December 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Meg Oliphant/Getty Images/AFP

Wrapping up a 50-point performance on Friday, Luka Doncic led the Dallas Mavericks into Sunday’s Christmas Day showcase against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Doncic’s outburst in a 112-106 win over the Houston Rockets also included 10 assists, eight rebounds, and three steals. His game was the ninth 50-plus game this season, putting Doncic in a club that included Lakers big-timer Anthony Davis.

Davis scored 55 points in the December 4 win over Washington, part of a period between November 13 and December 13 in which he scored at least 30 points nine times in 13 games.

Davis, however, hasn’t appeared since playing just 17:27 and missed the second half of the Lakers’ December 16 win over Denver, the Western Conference leaders. On Friday, the organization released a statement that Davis suffered a stress injury in his right foot and will side him indefinitely.

Without Davis – who is averaging the team’s highest of 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.1 saves per game – Thomas Bryant moved on to the Lakers’ starting rotation. Bryant scored 21 points in the win over Denver and went to Dallas after picking up at least 10 rebounds in three of Los Angeles’ last four games.

Bryant’s double-digit streak ended in fourth place in a 134-130 loss to Charlotte on Friday, leaving the Lakers limping into Sunday’s game on a three-game losing streak. This is Los Angeles’ fourth slip in at least three games this season as the Lakers slip six games under 0.500.

“(We) had our chance tonight,” LeBron James told reporters on Friday after his night of 34 points, eight assists. “I am not disappointed in our efforts. I’m not disappointed in our boys. It’s just, you want to go out there and be able to win the game that’s right for you.”

Meanwhile, Dallas passed the 0.500 mark for the season with Friday’s win, which is the Mavericks’ second straight win.

Dallas’ defense – the NBA’s highest-ranked with 109.4 points per game – held off four of their last six opponents with 106 points or less. However, the Mavericks were only 3-3 in that span.

Dallas looks for consistency in attack to assist Doncic, who has an average of 32.8 points behind only Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. No other Maverick averages more than Christian Wood’s 16.9 points per game and Dallas as the last team in the NBA in scoring per game at 83.1.

In Doncic’s 50-point attempt at Houston, the rest of the Mavericks shot 19/50 points from the floor. Even so, Doncic still praised his teammates’ ability to execute the shot.

“They doubled me a couple of times, I passed the ball and then we made great shots,” he said during his post-match media coverage. “Do it or miss it, I’ll do it again.”

Dallas was without contributors Dorian Finney-Smith (adductor), Josh Green (elbow) and Maxi Kleber (hamstring) on ​​Friday, as well as Kemba Walker (scheduled rest at the end of a five-match trip by Mavericks).


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