Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has seen a lot of games during nearly four decades in the NBA. But what he saw from his team on Friday night was, well, a head-scratcher.
The Los Angeles Lakers spanked the Mavs on the boards by a wide 53-27 margin, en route to claiming a 138-115 victory at Staples Center. But what was most concerning to Carlisle is that when it came to second-chance points, the Lakers won that key statistic by an astounding 35-0 margin.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where the team has given up 35 points on second-chance and (the other team) got to zero,” Carlisle said. “It’s obviously the story of the game. We talk about being in a hit-first mode, and we just were not.”
And because the Lakers were in a hit-first mode, the Mavs fell to 0-2 on the season entering Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. road game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Superstar forwards Anthony Davis (28 points, eight rebounds, five assists) and LeBron James (22 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists) did their usual damage for the Lakers. But a pair of the Lakers’ key offseason acquisitions – Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder – also made life miserable for the Mavs.
Harrell finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in only 28 minutes, and Schroder added 18 points and six assists in 25 minutes as the Lakers pounded the glass and got out in transition and ran away from the Mavs.
“You can’t win a game if second-chance points is 35 to 0,” said point guard Luka Doncic, who finished with 27 points and seven assists. “It’s as simple as that. We box out, we win the game.
“I think we did some great stuff on defense, but. . .”
As reserve guard Trey Burke said: “We didn’t compete for 48 minutes the way we’re supposed to compete. That’s a championship team over there and we’ve got another game like that on Sunday (against the Clippers).
“The first three games we knew it was going to be a challenge and we knew we were going to find out a lot about ourselves. Right now, I don’t think no one is happy with what we’re seeing collectively as a team, so we’re going to do some regrouping on our own and get ready for Sunday.”
After the Lakers built an 80-63 lead late in the third quarter, the Mavs climbed to within 106-97 with under 8 minutes remining in the game following a 3-pointer from Josh Richardson. But Harrell nailed back-to-back corner jumpers, and the Laker lead increased to 118-102 at the 4:58 mark.
“I think we’re having stretches where we show flashes, but I think tonight offensive rebounds killed us,” said Burke, who poured in 17 points in 24 minutes. “We had some stretches where we played great team defense for 20 seconds, and the last three or four seconds (of the 24-second shot clock) when the shot goes up, it doesn’t matter if three or four guys are boxing out. It takes one guy.
“The ball bounces one way and they get another opportunity. We just got to play with more of an edge, man, and we’ve got to be more dirty out there. It’s as simple as that.”
The Lakers held a slim 33-30 advantage after the first quarter and a 69-57 lead after Kyle Kuzma nailed a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. With the Lakers’ huge advantage inn second-chance points, this was a deep hole the Mavs had to climb out of in order to give themselves a decent chance to emerge with a victory.
“There was just a lot of balls we’ve got to get to,” Carlisle said. “It was 14-0 in the first half on second-chance (points) and it ended up being 35-0, so it actually got worst in the second half. Rebounding is a problem and it’s a concern, so we’ve got to look at that.
“The game was not without positives. We moved the ball better (than in Wednesday’s 106-102 season-opening loss at Phoenix), we did some things offensively much better than we did in the first game. But the defense and the rebounding has got to get better.”
So why was there such a wide margin in second-chance points on this Christmas day?
“I think part of that comes from a lot of us just turning and running to the rim when the shot goes up and not looking for bodies,” said guard Josh Richardson, who contributed 17 points in 27 minutes. “They took a lot of threes, they took a lot of jump shots, and those rebounds are normally coming long.”
Also, the Lakers shot 56 percent from the field and 48.7 percent from 3-point range (19-of-39).
“I don’t feel like we laid down,” Burke said. “I think it were stretches in the first half where it was times we looked disinterested. On a game like today, I don’t why it would be that way, but I don’t think we laid down for the most part.
“I think we fought — both units. We gave ourselves a chance a couple of times throughout the second half when we were down eight or nine points. We just never got over that hump.”
The Mavs hope to get “over that hump” when they battle LA’s other team – the Clippers – on Sunday before they play their home opener Wednesday against Charlotte.
“You can always change the lineup and put more size in there,” Carlisle said. “Look, I’ve got to look at the film and see for sure. It’s just that I see a lot of possessions where we showed a level of tenacity that’s necessary, but too many where we don’t.
“It’s a concern, but I’m going to look at the film objectively and make sure that whatever it is we need to address that we get to that. Things like possessions, things like number of rebounds – it’s 53-27 in situations where the ball is in the air and both teams have a chance to get it. We’re going to have to do better there. That’s all there is to it.”