Final: Mavs 109, Lakers 97
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
We’ve heard plenty of talk about the Mavs’ youth movement, and tonight’s game was a good example of what exactly we mean: 43 of the Mavs’ 58 first-half points were scored by players 26 years old or younger.
The Mavericks, and Harrison Barnes in particular, have talked a lot about the importance of getting to the free throw line. The team only took a modest 15 attempts tonight, but that was more than the Lakers’ 14 attempts. Barnes was aggressive and got to the line, and the Mavs’ team defense was able to contest shots for the most part without fouling. The Lakers settled for a lot of jump shots, too, so credit the Mavericks for locking down the paint. Andrew Bogut had a lot to do with that on the interior, blocking two shots and generally just playing well.
The Mavs improved to 5-2 all-time in Election Day games. For more info on those games, click here.
This game was all about the young guys. From Harrison Barnes playing another phenomenal game to Seth Curry setting a career-high scoring mark to Dwight Powell and Justin Anderson bringing energy off the bench, the Mavs’ youngest players all had big games. Young guys obviously will go through growing pains now and again, but on nights when everything clicks, some really awesome stuff can happen. The Lakers are one of the youngest, fastest, most exciting teams in the NBA, but the Mavericks beat them in the mental game while also matching them tit for tat physically and athletically. That’s not a claim this team has been able to make too often in recent years. We’re beginning to see the fruits of the youth movement labor, and it’s pretty sweet.
Harrison Barnes is still playing some amazing basketball. At this point, there’s not much more you can say about the guy, which is pretty notable given before this season not much was said about him. He has done an unbelievable job of improving his game and growing as a player, even aside from having to do so within the context of signing a maximum-salary contract after playing as a fourth or fifth option for the first four years of his career. Barnes scored 31 points in this game, giving him back-to-back 30-point outings, the first Maverick to do so since Dirk Nowitzki in 2013-14, and he’s just the third Maverick to do it since the beginning of the 2007-08 season and just the fifth Maverick to do so in the Dirk Era. It’s hard to imagine how he could possibly play any better, but the hope is that he can.
This was a pretty positive response from Justin Anderson, particularly in the first half, one game after he was essentially benched for the entire second half in the Milwaukee game. Anderson scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds in the first half alone, with most of that scoring coming in the form of dunks and layups. That’s exactly the type of stuff Rick Carlisle is looking for when he says he wants to see Anderson play with things like “force” and “conviction,” a.k.a. he wants Anderson to use his physical gift and unrivaled athleticism to make big-man plays on the floor. The second-year Mav did that, which should absolve any potential doubts the coaching staff had about his mental fortitude after sitting on the pine down the stretch against the Bucks, a game in which he wasn’t nearly as effective.
In a seemingly related move, rookie Dorian Finney-Smith received his first career start tonight, after playing a very good game in Sunday’s win against Milwaukee. Before the Florida rookie started, J.J. Barea was the last undrafted rookie who attended college in the U.S. to start a game for the Mavericks, according to research by the great Mark Followill. (Barea’s first start came during the 2006-07 season.) Finney-Smith is a four-year college player with tons of experience playing at a high level and in big games, he’s already a good defender at the pro level, and all those college minutes have made him a very smart player for a guy his age. Finney-Smith is capable of making the right passes and getting to the right spots on offense, and he’s seemingly always in the right place at the right time on the defensive end. There’s a lot to be said for a rookie to have such a high basketball IQ right out of school. How Finney-Smith went undrafted is beyond me.
The Mavs (2-5) play the Golden State Warriors (5-2) on Wednesday at Oracle Arena at 9:30 p.m. Central.