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Lakers vs. Mavericks Preview: L.A. looks to slow Luka Doncic and his razzmatazz hop-skiddily-doo

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The Lakers went 14-1 in the month of November. Today, they’ll try to start off December on the right track with a win against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers got an “easy money” win against the Washington Wizards on Friday, extending their win streak to 10 games in the process. They also finished the month of November 14-1 overall. Today, they’ll start their first game of December by taking on the Dallas Mavericks, where the razzmatazz hop-skiddily-doo of Luka Doncic likely won’t allow this game to be as easy as the win against Washington.

The last time these two teams met up, it led to what could’ve been the best game of the Lakers' season so far. The Lakers beat the Mavericks in overtime thanks to Danny Green’s game-tying three to force OT. Both LeBron James and Doncic made some history with their triple-doubles. Doncic became the youngest player in NBA history to drop a 30-10-15 triple-double, while LeBron became the oldest to do so.

The Lakers had some trouble defending Doncic that game up until the 4th quarter. Doncic had 21 points on 50% shooting in the first three quarters of the game. He then shot 2 of 7 from the field in the 4th quarter and overtime. The person who guarded Doncic for most of the game was Avery Bradley. Doncic shot 3-6 from the field on Bradley, including two threes, and also shot six free-throw attempts. Of course, Bradley is injured and won’t be playing tonight, so the Lakers will have to look for someone else to defend Doncic.

During the times that either LeBron or Anthony Davis defended Doncic, they held him to 3-9 shooting from the field, and perhaps more impressively didn’t let him go to the line at all, which Danny Green told reporters at practice on Saturday is the most important thing to do when defending Doncic.

“The biggest key for us is to keep (Doncic) off the free throw line,” Green said, comparing Doncic to a “bigger Lou Williams.”

That won’t be a challenge just because of Doncic, but the team as a whole. Dallas ranks 3rd in the NBA in free throw attempts per game at 26.4 per game. With Davis probably spending most of his time defending Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Vogel will likely look to use Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Green and James as the primary defenders on Doncic.

As far as the other end of the court goes, the Lakers picked on Doncic defensively. They would force Doncic into a pick and roll, which would leave him defending James, situations in which LeBron hit three triples against Doncic. In the 38 minutes Doncic was on the court that game, the Mavericks had a defensive rating of 112.5, while in the 15 minutes he was off the court, the Mavericks had a defensive rating of 87.9, the second-lowest on the team for the evening.

Like we’ve seen this season, it’s incredibly hard to slow down Doncic on the offensive end, so the Lakers would be smart to continue attacking him on defense while he’s on the court. Doncic has been 0-4 against the Lakers in his career, and hopefully his razzmatazz hop-skiddily-doo won’t be too much for the Lakers, allowing the streak to continue.

Notes and Updates

  • As mentioned above, Bradley will not be available for today’s game, or until the Lakers return from their next road trip (at the earliest). The team will re-evaluate Bradley when they return, and the good news for now is that Bradley has been cleared to begin “basketball progression” for the first time since he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of the fibular head on his right leg on Nov. 15.
  • Kyle Kuzma was being questionable to play against the Mavericks with a mild ankle sprain he sustained on Friday against the Wizards, but Frank Vogel said pregame that Kuzma will play on Sunday.
  • For more on what has made Doncic so special this season, check out this piece from Pete Zayas of Laker Film Room, in which he broke down Doncic’s mastery of the pick and roll for The Athletic.

Today’s game between the Lakers and Mavericks will tip-off at 1:00 p.m. PST in Staples Center, and be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.

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