Sunday’s match against the Los Angeles Lakers should never have come down to the final possession.
However, when their 27-point lead evaporated, it did so. The Lakers were aware of the importance of the challenge that the Mavericks faced.
A new team with new key players has been formed. The situation is tense.
The Lakers are familiar with the procedure. When it comes to clutch-time execution, they also know it is easier said than done.
“I was just trying to speed him up and make the catch difficult,” said Lakers newcomer Jarred Vanderbilt. They are still trying to figure out what they are doing at the end of games, as well.
It is a new team, as well as a new backcourt. It was just a matter of speeding them up, causing some confusion and indecision. I believe we were able to accomplish that.”
With 18 seconds remaining, the Mavericks trailed 108-105. With a 27-point lead in the second quarter, it was a difficult situation.
However, it is not impossible.
However, the inbounds pass did not go as planned. Luka Donis was led by Kyrie Irving with a pass near the midcourt line. Luka swatted the ball back into the front court. His mistake was not realizing that he could go into the backcourt to retrieve the inbound pass.
Nonetheless, it sabotaged any chance the Mavericks had of making a late comeback.
Like the Mavericks, the Lakers have been largely underachieving this season, but made a major trade before the deadline.
After bringing in Vanderbilt, DeAngelo Russell, and Malik Beasley, the Lakers (29-32) have won four of five and now appear to be a little more dangerous.
According to coach Darvin Ham, this game may be viewed as a turning point for the Lakers. We knew we were going into the break after our last game to encourage everyone to get some rest, but once we return from this break, we must be ready to get busy and really force our will, so to speak, on the remainder of this season so that we may be able to secure a spot and achieve our goals. You are witnessing the process of that.”
Injuries could derail such a turnaround, and the Lakers had a scare when LeBron James fell to the floor holding his right foot. It took him a few minutes to get back into the game, but he was able to stay in it and finish with 26 points and eight rebounds.
Following the game, he was noticeably limping when he boarded the Lakers’ bus.
“It has improved, that’s for sure,” he said following the game. I was not going to leave the field without finishing the game. After being down, I felt as if we would be able to steal one with the momentum we had. We will monitor the situation over the next couple of days, see how it feels and proceed accordingly.”
Despite missing their first 15 three-point attempts and shooting only 32 percent in the first half, the Lakers won.
They outrebounded the Mavericks 30-17 in the second half and outscored them 64-47.
“We are in a good position,” James stated. We intend to continue this practice. It is now possible for us to look at ways in which we can be better. We can still get the ball popping if we do not shoot well, but we need to get the ball in the paint and grab offensive rebounds when we do not shoot well. Our team must be capable of saying, “OK, if we’re not shooting well, we can still be in the game, we can still be productive.”.”
“I just think we (wore) them down with our aggressiveness, going to the basket,” said Ham. Living in the paint and forcing them to play a more physical game than they would have liked.
“We only made six three-pointers, they made 20, and we still won. I was very impressed with the 62 points scored in the paint.”
Maxi Kleber and Davis Bertans remain sidelined, but both are improving, Kidd said prior to Sunday’s game.
“Maxi and Davis are still out, but they are improving,” he stated. “They did a great job with the work they are doing. We will see if they continue to improve at practice tomorrow (Monday). Hopefully they will be able to play during the home stand.”
In addition to Tuesday’s match against Rick Carlisle’s Indiana Pacers, they have four more opportunities to play at American Airlines Center during this stay.
Kleber has been out since mid-December due to a right hamstring injury. As a result of a left calf strain suffered on Feb. 2, Bertans has missed the last nine games.
“He juststarted doing some stuff,” Kidd said of Bertans. The player is shooting the ball. In the course of our visit this week, I will be able to provide you with a little more concrete information regarding their return date.”