The other night, after the Lakers found another unique and inventive way to lose to the Charlotte Hornets, I tweeted that “this team’s commitment to finding new and more hilarious ways to barf all over themselves is kinda admirable.” And sure enough, giving up 51 points in the third quarter to blow a previously winnable game against the Dallas Mavericks certainly qualifies (and eventually resulted in a 124-115 loss on Christmas Day).
The Lakers essentially went into this game daring any Maverick but Luka Doncic to beat them, forcing the ball out of his hands early and often by sending a double team immediately on the catch nearly every time he touched the ball. Their rotations to the shooters this strategy freed up weren’t always clean, but the Mavericks’ frigid shooting from deep to start allowed Los Angeles to head into halftime leading by 11.
I kinda doubt it can hold up all game, but the Lakers doubling Luka is working so far.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 25, 2022
That Christmas cold snap wouldn’t last, however. And so that lead, like so many this season for the Lakers, melted away in the third quarter. The Mavericks came out of halftime as the offensive equivalent of a blizzard, with a 16-2 run midway through the third allowing them to take a seven-point lead halfway into the period and never looking back.
Overall, Dallas outscored the Lakers 51-21 in the third, with the Mavs managing both the highest-scoring quarter in the NBA this season and exceeding their total first-half output (43 points) in just 12 minutes.
It turned out that the rest of the Mavs, if left wide open by poor-to-nonexistent closeouts from folding chair-sized defenders, were in fact capable of beating the Lakers. Oh, and Luka still finished with 32 points.
Lakers entering the 4th quarter:— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) December 25, 2022
With LeBron on floor: +2 in 27 mins
With LeBron on bench: -21 in 9 mins
They just don’t have anything else with AD hurt.
Lakers failures are a math problem. Devoting almost a third of your teams salary to a net neutral player (at best) puts you at a significant competitive disadvantage to every other team.— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) December 25, 2022
In news that will not shock anyone who has watched this team — especially without Anthony Davis — the Lakers could not overcome a 19-point deficit entering the fourth quarter. This is now their fourth loss in a row, dropping them to a 13-20 record overall, good for 13th place in the Western Conference.
Also, at some point we need to talk about the Lakers playing far too small, far too often, but that is a discussion for another day. For now, just look at this new low. You just can’t be the living, dribbling, bricking embodiment of the “too small” gesture as a basketball team:
No one on the floor taller than 6'3? pic.twitter.com/nQB0YcHDId— Raj C. (@RajChipalu) December 25, 2022
Please excuse the brevity of this recap — longtime readers know I’m no Edwin Garcia in terms of live X’s and O’s analysis here anyway — but I don’t really want to spend any more of my Christmas thinking about this game than I have to. This team is just not capable of being competitive for 48 minutes without AD as currently constructed, and until that changes, there are only so many fresh thoughts I can muster. I hope you all get some time with your loved ones as well this holiday season, no matter how you celebrate this winter. We at Silver Screen and Roll are grateful for every single member of this community.
The Lakers will now get Monday off before continuing their current five-game road trip in Orlando with a matchup against the Magic on Tuesday.