LeBron James lifted the Lakers to their third win of the season from a free throw that sealed the game against the Mavericks on Wednesday inside Staples Center. The Lakers were in a nail biter once more, despite the team leading for the entire game and by as much as 18 points in the first quarter.
“You can talk about it, you can preach about it, you can watch film about it, but the best teacher in life is experience,” remarked James who led all scorers with 29 points, six assists, and five rebounds. The young Lakers core “are getting this experience of playing these tight close games and then tonight we were on the other side of it.”
The team improved to a 3-5 record with this home win. Defensive woes late in the game, however, allowed the Mavericks to ease back into the game late in the fourth quarter.
“We were disappointed in the way we won,” JaVale McGee said. “I was saying when we came in, can we blow somebody out, please? Like we were up a lot.”
With 7.2 seconds left in the game, the third overall pick in this year’s draft Luka Doncic, scored a layup to tie the game at 113. Doncic, who came in averaging 20.4 points a game, scored his first field goal came in the third quarter with 4:50 on the clock. He brought some late energy that surged the Mavericks to within striking range. He finished with 14 points all coming in the second half and notched seven assists.
McGee led the Lakers’ defensive effort with a season-high 15 rebounds. He earned his first double-double as a Laker with 16 points and five blocks in 35 minutes.
“I feel like the coaches are figuring out how to play me those minutes and the ways to keep me in there that long,” McGee commented. “It’s definitely working for me.
The Lakers had a prolific scoring night in which all five starters finished in double figures for the third time this season: James (29), McGee (16), Kyle Kuzma (18), Brandon Ingram (17), and Lonzo Ball (12). Los Angeles shot nearly 60 percent from the three-point line.
The breakdowns in coverages and on defense did not come until the fourth quarter. Seven of the Lakers 20 turnovers came in the final quarter, where the team was outscored 32-20.
“It’s why defense is so important,” stated Lakers coach Luke Walton. “That’s why we are going to keep working on it and keep preaching it until we get to that level where we can do it. The first and third quarters tonight, defensively, I thought we were pretty darn good as well. I thought we had two good quarters and then two pretty awful quarters.”
Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks in scoring with 21 points while Harrison Barnes added 19 points, and J.J. Barea contributed 15 points and 10 assists off the bench.
Though it was a scary scene down the stretch, the Lakers were able to close out the game after dropping two straight on the road. Los Angeles will travel to Portland to face the Trail Blazers for the second time this season on Saturday, Nov. 3.