Well, this was bound to happen at some point, and against Luka Doncic and the explosive Dallas Mavericks was as likely a time as any. The Los Angeles Lakers had their 10-game winning streak snapped in a 114-100 loss to the Mavericks that saw the game really get away from L.A. in the second half.
The Lakers gave up a 22-5 run to start the third quarter after leading 62-59 at halftime, and the rest of the frame didn’t get much better for the purple and gold. A 10-0 Lakers run to try and climb back into it was quickly silenced by a few quick plays from Luka Doncic, and the 17 points the Lakers scored in the quarter was their lowest total in any quarter this season.
There were several factors in this Lakers loss, but there were two that stood apart from the rest.
Luka Doncic is unbelievable
Doncic continued to make his MVP case, dropping a 27-point, 10-assist, 9-rebound near triple-double and cutting off every attempt at a run the Lakers made with a big play or two. The Lakers missed having Avery Bradley as an extra defensive option in this one.
The Mavericks take (and make) a lot of threes
Dallas went 17-49 from behind the arc, and while that isn’t a great percentage, their willing ball movement and free-shooting ways spread the Lakers out, and L.A. couldn’t hit enough threes of their own (7-27) to match the Mavericks’ efforts.
This tweet from our own Alex Regla emphasized the problem well:
This is one of the few games where the Lakers ran into a math issue that has hovered over them all year.— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) December 1, 2019
Dallas has made 11 more threes (taken 22 more overall). On the season the Lakers are 24th overall in terms of 3-point frequency (31%). To compare, 28.5% of shots are midrange
Three is worth more than two, and so when the Lakers aren’t really locking down on defense and being really efficient in the paint, nights like this are going to be prone to happen. We’ll see if a loss is enough to knock off some of the defensive malaise they’ve shown of late.
The Lakers will now hit the road for the next three games, starting on Tuesday when they face the Nuggets in Denver. And while it will feel easy to freak out about a loss to a playoff team at the start of a much tougher month of December schedule-wise, it’s important to remember that this is just one game in the grand scheme of things, and the Lakers are still tied with the Milwaukee Bucks at a league-best 17-3. If they keep losing, the time to panic will come. That time doesn’t appear to be now.