Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 114-113 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night at the Staples Center:
1. MAVS KEEP HANGING AROUND: The wins are not coming the way they want them to, but the Mavs are being very competitive and are hanging around and making things tough for the opposing teams. Wednesday’s 114-113 loss on the road to the LA Lakers came two days after the Mavs lost in overtime in San Antonio, 113-108. And that came following a pair of nine-point losses to Toronto and Utah. Unfortunately, integrating two new players – center DeAndre Jordan and rookie forward Luka Jordan – into the starting lineup and getting everyone on the same page while also getting the chemistry to flow freely takes some time.
2. DONCIC ON A BIG STAGE: At first, it looked like the stage was too big for rookie Luka Doncic. After all, his idol, LeBron James, was on the other side. Doncic even said he asked James during the game if he could autograph one of his (James’) jerseys and give it to him after the game. Then, after going over two-and-a-half quarters without scoring, Doncic cranked things up and finished with 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists in only 28 minutes. He also took charge down the stretch while making a series of spectacular plays, including floating in a 7-footer from the left baseline that tied the game at 113-113 with 7.2 seconds left.
3. BAREA BREAKS OUT OF SLUMP: After scoring just 16 points and handing out seven assists in the previous three games, J. J. Barea rebounded against the Lakers and tallied 15 points and dispensed 10 assists. Barea’s shooting touch also returned. The 13-year veteran was 7-of-24 from the field in the previous three games, but was 7-of-15 from the field against the Lakers. In addition, Barea’s plus/minus was a plus 28 and was the highest of any of the 20 players who played Wednesday. This is the third time this season Barea has distributed at least 10 assists in a game. The Mavs need his veteran leadership coming off the bench, and his ability to direct an offense while offering a steady hand.
4. MATTHEWS ON A CAREER ROLL: Wesley Matthews continues his offensive surge as he poured in 21 points against the Lakers. It’s the fifth time in the last six games that Matthews has scored at least 20 points. Matthews converted 8-of-15 field goals and 4-of-10 shots from 3-point range. This is the third time Matthews has made at least eight field goals in a game and the fourth time he’s made at least four 3-pointers. What’s more, Matthews is second on the Mavs in scoring with a career-high 18.6 ppg. He trails only rookie Luka Doncic (19.6 ppg). Matthews’ scoring punch is even more phenomenal since the Mavs call on him to inject some aggressive defense on the opposing team’s top perimeter scorer.
5. THE BENCH IS BACK: Following a pair of so-so performances against the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, the Mavs’ bench was back in rare form against the Lakers. With J. J. Barea scoring 15 points and Dwight Powell adding 12 points, the Mavs’ bench doubled-up on the Lakers’ reserves, who they outscored 44-22. It’s the most points the Mavs’ bench has scored this season besides the 46 points they scored in the second game of the season versus Minnesota. Against the Lakers, the Mavs’ reserves also won the rebound battle by a 17-4 margin, and the assist battle by a 13-5 margin. The Mavs’ non-starters were 18-of-31 from the field, while the Lakers non-starters were 7-of-17 from the field.