Lakers’ Relentless Bully Ball Down the Mavericks 103-93
By Paul Wang
In the year’s final showdown with the Lakers, the Mavericks failed to even the season series and fell 103-93, despite a 13 point 3rd-quarter lead.
Dallas’ longstanding issue of not having a true defensive anchor reared its ugly head once again. Despite the NBA landscape moving away from traditional big men, the Lakers completely exploited the Mavericks thin line of defense at center on Wednesday night.
An ominous sign for things to come, Lakers’ big man Brook Lopez started off the night by overpowering Nowitzki and Powell inside for 13 points in first quarter alone. The veteran finished the night with a game high 22 points along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Weathering Lopez’s paint dominance, the Mavericks held steady in an back-an-forth first half. Solid contributions from the trio of Barnes, Smith Jr. and Dirk (who ended with 17, 14 and 13 points respectively) allowed Dallas to hold a 66-65 lead at the half. In fact, a 11-0 run midway through the 3rd period extended the lead to 74-61.
Unfortunately for Dallas, Julius Randle then led a second wave of interior assault. The Dallas native (set to be a restricted free agent this coming summer) showcased his signature bully ball by outmuscling any Maverick standing in his way, netting 8 consecutive points and igniting a 16-0 run for the home team. He finished with a clean 20 point, 10 rebound double-double.
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With all momentum gone and with “drafting intentions” in mind, the Mavericks played an uninspiring fourth quarter as all five starters watched from the bench. Outscored 21-12 in the final frame, the Mavericks ultimately fell 103-93.
Yogi Ferrell was the only other Maverick in double figures with 12 on an ineffectual 4-12 shooting night. Dennis Smith Jr’s rookie adversary Lonzo Ball also posted a pedestrian performance with 8 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds before leaving the game with a left knee contusion.
There are now just 7 games left on the year as the Mavericks stare down an important offseason in which key roster decisions and draft choices will be made. Will Julius Randle return home to give Dallas some much needed toughness? Only time (and offer sheets) will tell.
Next: How the 2018 NBA Draft Will Impact Free Agency
The Mavericks have one night off before hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves on the 30th. Tip off, as usual in DFW, will be at 6:30 pm CT.