The Los Angeles Lakers came with a great opportunity to gain further ground in the standings on Friday when they faced the Dallas Mavericks, who were without Luka Doncic.
After taking a 14-7 lead, the Lakers fell behind as they failed to protect the 3-point line. Dallas got red hot from downtown, hitting 9 of 15 in the first half from that distance as they went up to 62-54 at halftime. The Lakers fought back from a 14-point deficit early in the third quarter, closing in on one with 2:21 left, only to see the Mavs cut their lead to nine by the end of the quarter.
Then came a big rally in LA in the fourth quarter, taking it 109-105 in the closing seconds — until a self-inflicted disaster.
With 7.2 seconds to go it looked like a stop but Anthony Davis committed an ill-advised foul on Maxi Kleber, resulting in three successful free throws. Davis was fouled at the other end and had an opportunity to give his team insurance, but he took just one of two foul shots.
With 6.7 seconds left in the game, the Lakers were well aware of Kyrie Irving, who had 38 points. They caught him and forced him to get rid of the ball and he passed the ball to Kleber who was partially open behind the 3-point line as Davis was out of position defensively. Kleber then hit the game-winning Trey just before the buzzer to defeat LA 111-110.
The Lakers are ultimately to blame for this loss. They shot just 19 of 31 from the free throw line and 25.0 percent from the 3-point line, and with just under eight fastbreak points, they couldn’t put the pace in their favor.
The loss relegated them to 10th place in the Western Conference, although they are still just two games behind the Mavs, who improved to sixth place.
If Los Angeles misses the playoffs this season, that game will be considered the one that got away.
Davis was a bit quiet in the first half, as he often faced a second defender when he got the ball. But when he found some clearance he was very effective, going 4 of 5 off the field and scoring 10 points at half-time.
Eventually Davis managed to get 26 points for the game and he did it in part by getting to the free throw line where he converted 8 of 11 shots while going off the field 9 of 14 and adding 10 rebounds.
But as previously mentioned, he cost the Lakers that game more than any other. His missed free throw in the final seconds was one of several missed free throws he had in the closing moments of a tight game they lost this season and he simply has no excuse not to convert those foul shots.
Jarred Vanderbilt: B
Vanderbilt didn’t have much of an impact in that game. He only played 20 minutes and finished with just four rebounds and seven points as head coach Darvin Ham opted to play with Wenyen Gabriel for most of the fourth quarter instead.
Troy Brown Jr.: B
Brown went 2-of-4 from the field, with all four of his shot attempts going over the arc. His hot shooting from this distance over the past few weeks has been a very welcome boon to a Lakers team that needs even more accurate 3-point shooting.
D’Angelo Russell: C+
Russell struggled offensively in the first half, walking just 3 of 9 and missing all three of his 3-point attempts. He never got underway as he shot 5 of 17 overall and 0 of 6 from downtown.
However, with 11 assists and zero turnovers for the game, he did a terrific job at distribution despite not having much possession in the fourth quarter.
Malik Beasley: B+
Beasley went 0-of-3 from downtown tonight but while he’s still struggling from the outside he did a good job in this game attacking the basket. He shot 5-of-9 overall and had a decent 10 points in 23 minutes, along with six rebounds.
Hopefully this game will serve as a model for his further development on how to play when his 3-pointers don’t go through the basket.
Rui Hachimura: B/B+
In 16 minutes, Hachimura scored 10 points on 4 of 6 from the field while hitting both of his 3-point attempts. He even played some defense by getting two steals, which seems like a bonus to him.
This was the fourth time he’s been efficient offensively in the last five games and it’s a very encouraging sign considering how up and down he’s been since joining LA in late January.
Wenyen Gabriel: A
Gabriel was everywhere in that game and he was the catalyst that helped give the Lakers a chance to win. He played an active defense after coming on in the first quarter and blocked a shot towards the end of the third while the officials in front of this keeper decided another attempt from him to block. He then got a steal early in the second quarter, which led to a fast break layup by Dennis Schroder.
The forward’s activity on the boards clearly stood out at both ends of the floor. He finished with 11 rebounds plus nine points, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Unfortunately, Gabriel also struggled from the free throw line, going only 3-of-6 from the charity streak and missing two big ones at 5:43 in the fourth quarter that LA could have improved by three.
Dennis Schroeder: B+/A-
Schröder sparked the Lakers’ rally in the fourth quarter, primarily as a scorer. He scored nine points and shared two assists in that frame, giving him 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting, five assists and three assists for the game.
Instead of Russell, he was the team’s main ball leader on the stretch, and good things happened when he had the ball as the Lakers overcame the Mavs in the final third to the final 7.2 seconds that cost them the game 13 hit.
Austin Reaves: B+/A-
Reaves continued to be extremely efficient with 16 points overall on 5-of-8 shooting, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot. He struggled from the free throw line all game, but he made two big ones late in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers cause.
Source : sports.yahoo.com