DALLAS – The Los Angeles Lakers blew a 17-point lead in the first half to lose for the second time in three days to the Dallas Mavericks.
In his second game since returning from his calf injury, Anthony Davis was on a much better pace than Thursday. He scored 18 points, including 12 in the first half and had 3 rebounds, in 28 minutes on the floor.
But it was insufficient because in the last quarter the Los Angeles defense did not find an answer for Luka Doncic, who took advantage of the double coverage they had on him for most of the game to find teammates who found gaps and score, such as Dwight Powell, who encrypted 12 of its 25 units in that final period.
The Mavericks cleaned up the series of two home games that they had Thursday and Saturday against the Lakers to put a game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers in sixth place in the Western Conference and fight, at least for now, the direct elimination game that the teams will have to compete from the seventh sowing.
“The mindset is to think about the day, the time of the game and the game plan. That’s our focus,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “We don’t need to talk about standings. It is very evident what is happening. We have worked hard to be where we are. It has not been easy.”
Los Angeles, who played without Kentavious Caldwell-Pope just a couple of days after he scored 29 points against Dallas, are just a game and a half ahead of the Mavericks, in fifth place in the conference.
“I think we are in a good position to try to close (the season) strong,” Doncic said. “The priority continues to be to advance to the playoffs and not play the elimination game.”
Doncic had a first half to forget, which included only four points in the opening period, and in which he spent a good time complaining to the referees and it even seemed that his coach.
In the end, the Slovenian star from Dallas finished with a double-double of 18 points and 13 assists.
“At halftime, we talked about a couple of adjustments,” Carlisle mentioned. “But everyone’s message was that you had to remain disciplined and on the course of the game plan.”
The Mavericks took the win thanks to a fourth quarter that they won 29-14, they were able to add their third success in a row, despite 16 turnovers on Saturday night.
“It was a great closure for everyone at the end,” added the Dallas coach. “We played good basketball on both sides of the court and everyone played their game.”
LeBron James missed his 18th straight game with a calf injury, but according to coach Frank Vogel, he may be back in action next week.
Kristap Porzingis was absent with an ankle injury he suffered against the Lakers last Thursday.
The reigning monarchs will travel to Orlando to face the Magic on Monday, while the Mavericks visit the Sacramento Kings that same day.
“With 12 games left, everything is in front of us,” Carlisle warned. “We just have to be thinking about the present, keep our eyes on the ball and play as hard and together as we can.”