By Terrance Turner
After an epic loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday — they blew a 23-point halftime lead only to lose 116-108 — the Los Angeles Lakers’ woes continued tonight. Without LeBron James (who suffered an ankle sprain on Sunday) and Anthony Davis (who has been out since mid-February with a foot sprain), the Lakers lost yet again tonight to the Dallas Mavericks.
According to Sports Illustrated, “The Mavericks jumped out to a double-digit lead to start the game with much thanks to some magic from Luka Doncic. Doncic scored 15 of Dallas’ first 25 points. The Mavs scored 43 points in the first quarter, tied for their second-most this season.” Dallas led 43-25 by the end of the quarter.
That 18-point lead swelled to 29 during the second quarter, powered partly by a number of free throws and by some strong shooting. Davis Bertans made three separate three-point jumpers, and Luka Doncic scored another 8 points late in the quarter. According to ESPN, “Doncic had 25 points in the first half as Dallas scored a season-high 82 for a 26-point lead.” The Mavericks led 82-56 at halftime; it’s the most points that the Lakers have allowed in a half since the franchise moved to L.A!
Dallas continued to dominate in the second half. So did Doncic. The 23-year-old star secured his first triple-double in almost two months and 10th of the season with an offensive rebound for a layup that gave him 32 points and put Dallas up 101-65 with 6:58 left in the third quarter. Doncic sat the fourth. But by then, the damage was already done.
The Mavericks led 113-84 at the end of the third. Though the Lakers tried to rally in the fourth, playing aggressively on defense and briefly outscoring the Mavs for a stretch, nothing could dig them out of the hole they were in. Malik Monk scored 28 points and Russell Westbrook had 25. But the Lakers lost their third straight game, for their fifth losing streak at least that long in the past two months as part of a steady slide away from .500 for the 2020 champs.
The Lakers now stand at 31-44, 11th place in the Western Conference. With just a handful of games left in the regular season, they appear to be on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention. Davis reportedly can return in time for a game on Friday, but James is questionable.
According to Yahoo! Sports, James rolled his left ankle early in the second quarter of Sunday’s game while setting up for a rebounding position. He stepped on Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes‘ foot under the basket before collapsing on the court. He later told reporters, “I have no idea how I finished the game,” describing the injury as “horrible“.
“With those guys out, we’re at a talent deficit, so the focus and execution has to make up for it,” Vogel said. “This is just the latest dose of adversity that this year’s team has faced. When you lose ’Bron, OK, you have to adjust yet again throughout a season of setbacks.”
It’s only the latest setback for the Lakers, who signed a slew of superstar players only to end up with a losing record. Former center Shaquille O’Neal — who won several championships with L.A. in the early 2000s — was typicaly blunt about the team’s playoff chances: