Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
With the Thunder on the schedule tomorrow and with 4 games in 5 nights, it was important for the Dallas Mavericks to build an early lead against a depleted Los Angeles Laker team. They did that and more as they were able to win 123-104
After scoring 32 points in the first quarter and 38 points in the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks continued the high scoring with a 35 point first quarter against the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers to give them a 35-22 lead at the end of the period. Dirk Nowitzki did not score a point in the period as the Mavericks saw eight different players score, led by Monta Ellis’s 8 points.
DeJuan Blair and Gal Mekel would lead the Mavericks early in the period. Blair has been active throughout the first three games and it did not change tonight as he was able to score 10 points and collect 6 rebounds in a 10 minute span highlighted by a huge dunk off a Vince Carter feed. Mekel played his best half as a Maverick with 4 points and 4 assists. Nowitzki didn’t score his first points of the half till 3 minutes remaining to give the Mavericks a 59-30 lead.
Ellis would end the half with 16 points, 5 assists, and the team’s only 2 turnovers. The Mavericks out shot the Lakers 51.9% to 40.4% and committed only 2 turnovers to go with 21 team assists.
With Kobe out, Pau Gasol who is battling an illness, is the Lakers’ focal point on offense. The Mavericks were able to hold him to just 6 points at the half. Former Maverick Chris Kaman led the Lakers with 10 points and 5 rebounds and another former Maverick Steve Nash, who is battling injuries and was guarded by Shawn Marion had zero points and 3 assists.
After a 4 point half , Nowitzki would score a quick 5 points in a two and a half-minute span to build an early 76-50 lead. Ellis would continue his onslaught and see his scoring total rise to 26 points to go along with 8 assists as the Mavericks built a 30 point lead. The Lakers’ bench would go on a 17-4 run to cut the lead down to 94-77 by the end of the period.
The Lakers led by 6th man Nick Young were able to cut the lead down to 15 to start the fourth, but Blair would impact the game again, this time with a block and steal on consecutive plays to give the Mavericks a 2o point lead.
Jae Crowder building off his increased minutes would score 11 quick fourth quarter points, including three 3’s and finish the game with 18 points. The Mavericks would clear the bench with just under seven minutes left.
Ellis finished with his second 30+ point game of the season as he 3o points (11-14 shooting) and 9 assists as he led seven Mavericks in double figures. Ellis time after time attacked the basket for layups, and when the defense sagged off the screen he confidently was hitting the midrange-short jumper. After suffering from an early season slump Jose Calderon was able to find his groove as he hit 4 of 6 3’s to score 12 points and handed out 5 assists. Although Nowitzki only scored 11 points, he was able to grab a season high 8 rebounds. Marion (11)and Samuel Dalembert (10)rounded off the starting lineup scoring.
For the Lakers Young led them with 21 points. Gasol would continue to have a quiet night as he finished with only 10 points and 8 rebounds.
The Mavericks after two sub-par shooting performances were able to shoot 52.1 % from the floor and 13-27 (48.1%) from 3. Mavericks also won the rebounding battle 50-35, committed 12 team turnovers (6 came after the bench cleared) and handed out 34 team assists compared to only 21 for the Lakers.
There’s no doubt that this Lakers team isn’t at full strength, so the real test comes tomorrow night as the Mavericks head to Oklahoma City to face Western Conference Contender Oklahoma City Thunder. With Russell Westbrook back to team with Kevin Durant the Mavericks will have their hands full. This game will be a great test to see how the Mavericks can compete against the top Western Conference teams.