We thought we were getting a duel between Luka Doncic and LeBron James for Christmas, but what we got instead showed just how much Rob “Santa” Pelinka spoiled Lakers fans with their free agency haul, as Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schröder eviscerated the Mavericks inside and offered a blueprint for what nights where James and Anthony Davis can take it easy should look like as the Lakers cruised to a 138-115 victory.
The Lakers got off to a much better start in this one than they did in their opener against the Clippers, leading 33-30 after the first quarter, and things only got better from there. The Lakers got everything they wanted inside while building their halftime lead and then in the third quarter, Harrell converted his boundless energy into put-backs, rim-rolls and all other variety of easy buckets around the rim. The Mavericks couldn’t stop anything the Lakers were doing, and Harrell was more than happy to shove whatever undersized Maverick was in front of him under the basket, finally forcing Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle to dust off Boban Marjanovic in the fourth quarter just to counter with some size. Shockingly, that did not turn the tides and result in a win for the Mavs.
Montrezl Harrell out here playing with all the energy— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 26, 2020
( : ABC & ESPN) pic.twitter.com/mlKZqnRE2u
Where Harrell did his damage with physicality, Schröder did with quickness, playing pesky defense against Luka Doncic while getting the Lakers out on the break, as well as ably running pick and rolls with Harrell to slice and dice the Mavericks’ already porous defense even further. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year and the runner up for the award are a hell of a change of pace for the Lakers to be able to go to when resting James and/or Davis, and this game was a showcase for how they can help ease James and Davis’ load. And between this and game one, it’s also easy to see why the Lakers want to keep Schröder around for the foreseeable future. He finished with 18 points and 6 assists, while Harrell offered his own 22 points and 7 rebounds.
Elsewhere, James and Davis were their usual solid selves, even if their production was unspectacular by their normally Herculean standards. Also, a special shoutout to Kyle Kuzma, who didn’t fill up the box score, but gave the Lakers some timely threes and floaters to help them build their lead and looked as comfortable in his role in a (non-preseason) game as he’s appeared since the beginning of play in the NBA bubble last spring. And he wasn’t the only solid veteran reinforcement.
With this win, the Lakers even their record at 1-1, and will get Saturday off as one final little Christmas gift before hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. Happy holidays everyone. Enjoy the weekend and stay safe out there.