Anthony Davis dunked a missed shot and screamed after giving the Los Angeles Lakers the lead for good with two minutes to go.
So much for the 27-point deficit in a showcase of stars that went from a laugher to a thriller with 13 fourth-quarter lead changes.
Davis had 30 points and 15 rebounds, LeBron James scored 26 and the Lakers completed their biggest rally in 21 years, beating the same team again in a 111-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
The fourth win in five games for LA came after trailing by 27 in the middle of the second quarter — the same deficit the Lakers faced at the start of the fourth at home against Dallas on Dec. 6, 2002, before finishing a 30-point rally in a 105-103 victory.
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“The guys never got discouraged,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “They had that look of frustration, but it wasn’t a look of defeatedness on their faces. Everybody just wanted to stay encouraged.”
Luka Doncic scored 26 points for the Mavs, but the youngest of the four superstars was limited and frustrated, largely by the defense of Jarred Vanderbilt, after a 14-point first quarter that sent Dallas on its way to the huge lead.
“We have to grow up if we want to win a championship,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “What the Lakers just showed us is it’s not the rabbit that wins; it’s the turtle. And they worked the game. And that’s what we have to get better at.”
Davis and James were the fourth-quarter standouts as trade acquisition D’Angelo Russell sat out after spraining his ankle in a victory over defending champion Golden State in the previous game.
The Lakers had what looked like an ankle scare with James as the rally was gaining steam in the third quarter, with the recently crowned all-time scoring leader staying down for several minutes holding his lower right leg. He stayed in the game.
After the injury, James hit a tying 3-pointer to start the fourth, then another bucket for LA’s first lead since the middle of the first quarter.
After Davis’ rebound and dunk for a 104-103 lead with 2:00 remaining, James scored for a three-point edge.
The Mavericks were still down three with 15 seconds left when an inbound pass from Irving to Doncic was headed toward the backcourt. Doncic ran to save it from going into the backcourt, thinking it would be a turnover if he didn’t.
Davis grabbed the loose ball, forcing Dallas to foul. Doncic could have let the ball go past midcourt without Dallas losing possession.
Irving said he threw the ball toward the backcourt to give Doncic more room, and figured the soon-to-be 24-year-old would know he could let it cross midcourt.
“Once I saw him try to save it from half court, I looked at him about a minute later, ‘You know you could go backcourt?’” Irving said. “He’s like, ‘Ah, man, that’s my fault.’ This is what it’s going to be like when you’re learning in-game with one another.”
Vanderbilt, another trade pickup for LA, had 15 points, 17 rebounds and four steals, including two during a 12-0 third-quarter run that got the deficit inside 10 for the first time since late in the first.
Lakers: LA won despite an 0-of-15 start from 3-point range, and was being outscored 30-0 from deep by the second quarter. The comeback was methodical, and inside-oriented, as the Lakers outscored the Mavericks 62-32 in the paint. … Dennis Schroder had 16 points and a game-high eight assists.
Mavericks: Dallas cooled off after a hot start from going 8 of 26 after the break. Doncic made his first 3 but missed four of the last five. Irving was 1 of 8 from deep after halftime. … Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points and helped fuel the early Dallas surge by blocking a shot from James, running down the loose ball and throwing a long pass to Doncic for a layup just before the first-quarter buzzer.
Lakers: At Memphis on Tuesday.
Mavericks: Indiana visits Tuesday.