Two Western Conference teams that made significant trade deadline acquisitions squared off on Sunday afternoon with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers traveling to take on Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks.
If the Lakers are going to make a run to get back in postseason contention then these are the type of games they need to win, and despite a rough first half, they fought all the way back to win 110-108.
Doncic got off to a hot start with back-to-back 3-pointers, although other than that both teams were cold early.
The Mavericks eventually heated up with Doncic hitting another and Irving, Josh Green and Christian Wood connecting to build a double-digit lead. Doncic scored against to beat the buzzer and the Lakers trailing 28-16 after a poor first quarter.
L.A. wasn’t playing bad defensively, but their struggles on the offensive end combined with ridiculous shot-making by the Mavericks put them in a huge hole. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Tim Hardaway Jr. built Dallas’s lead to 20 at 38-18 early in the second.
As the Lakers continued to turn it over and miss easy looks, the Mavericks continued to capitalize with triples on the other end.
Dennis Schroder started relentlessly attacking the paint to get the Lakers back in it after the deficit built to 27. The Lakers continued to play with a lot of energy and eventually got some shots to fall. They went into the halftime locker room with some momentum, trailing by 14 at 61-47 after a run to end the second.
The Lakers came out with the same intensity to begin the third with Jarred Vanderbilt finishing at the rim a couple of times to cut the deficit to 11 and force a Mavericks timeout.
Vanderbilt continued to pour it on out of the timeout, making plays on both ends as the Lakers cut it to five all of a sudden.
There was a scary moment towards the end of the third quarter when James hurt his foot. He originally said he heard a pop, but he wound up being able to stay in the game and the Lakers were within three at 81-78 going into the fourth quarter.
James connected on a 3 and then a layup to start the final frame, regaining the lead as the Lakers fought all the way back from once down 27. Things got a bit chippy from there with young guys Austin Reaves and Josh Green earning double technicals after jawing at each other, setting up for an interesting finish.
Davis made a nice midrange jumper with three minutes to play, although Doncic responded with a 3 to put Dallas back up by two.
Clearly energized by what happened early, Reaves came up big for the Lakers late with a triple of his own. James then bullied his way for a layup to put L.A. up three in the final minute.
Irving responded with a putback layup, which was immediately answered by Davis in the midrange to make it three once again with 18 seconds to play.
Vanderbilt and Davis put the stamp on the comeback victory though when they stole the inbounds pass on the final possession. Davis then made a free throw, but the game was not over with Justin Holiday drilling a corner 3.
Schroder finally put the game on ice, making his free throws with Dallas missing at the buzzer.
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