With the Pelicans, Warriors and Timberwolves all losing tonight, the Lakers once again had a golden opportunity to gain ground in an air-tight Western Conference.
Unfortunately, the team instead suffered arguably their most gut-wrenching defeat of the season as a Maxi Kleber game-winner handed the Lakers a 111-110 loss to Dallas Mavericks.
Despite being without Luka Dončić, Dallas still shot the lights out from deep and an offensive burst by Kyrie Irving midway through the second quarter gave the Mavericks an advantage on the scoreboard they held onto for a majority of the game.
A rough stretch of play from the Lakers on both ends of the floor over the last several minutes has Dallas up 57-48.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 18, 2023
LAL led 42-38 before allowing this 19-6 run.
Down by eight heading into halftime, the Lakers needed to quickly swing momentum back their way in the third quarter if they hoped to get back into it. Irving was hellbent in not letting that happen. He continued to hit three after three as Dallas kept momentum on their side.
Behind the Lakers finally getting their offense going by putting Davis in pick-and-roll action and picking up their intensity on defense, it seemed like they had regained the reins.
The fourth quarter saw the Lakers continue to kick up the intensity with the bench in particular playing a big role in the team’s comeback. Schröder scored nine in the final frame alone, Gabriel’s defense and energy was a huge bright spot and Austin Reaves continued his efficient play.
The rest of the quarter was similar to a heavyweight fight with each team exchanging blows. Davis had a great block on Irving, and behind a Schröder floater, it seemed like the purple and gold were on their way to their second big comeback against Dallas. But unfortunately, that is not what actually transpired. After a failed challenge by the Lakers on a Gabriel foul, Irving sunk a pair of free throws and the Mavericks were back within one-possession.
A careless Davis foul on Kleber’s 3-point attempt brought the score within one. Then Davis split a pair of free-throws to give Dallas a final chance to win the game with 6.7 seconds left, which was exactly enough time for Kleber to get off the dagger three to win it at the buzzer.
Just a gutting loss for the Lakers. We can break down the missed free throws, turnovers, and every other small detail that came back to bite them in the closing stretch. But despite all that, they still had the game in their control, and ultimately let a critical game out of their grip when they needed it the most.
The Lakers will have to try and shake this ugly loss quickly as the season is drawing to a close. Their next chance to get back in the win column will come on Sunday when they face off against the Orlando Magic.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.