Every game played between teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks this season appears to end in the same fashion with heartbreak and purple. The last time they met at Christmas, Dallas beat Los Angeles by 30 points in the most difficult period that season-long in the Lakers. In the January rematch Dallas triumphed in a controversial double-overtime game that had inconsistency in the officiating of both teams. As Dallas took an early lead of 48-21 during the third quarter their third game in the regular season, on Sunday it appeared like the Lakers were headed for an identical outcome.
After that, a couple of shots began falling. A lead of 27 points was cut to 14 at halftime. The defense slowed down after that, limiting Dallas to only 20 in the final quarter before cutting the lead to three. Then in the last quarter? The stars made the differentiator. LeBron James as well as Anthony Davis combined for 18 points while Luka Doncic as well as Kyrie Irving crashed down. In the final 18 seconds, a mistake by Doncic and the Mavericks losing by three secured the victory. The Lakers beat the Mavericks by with a score of 111-108.
The victory was historic on a number of levels. It was the most significant of the season for the entire NBA when teams started Sunday’s game having an average of 0-138 in games that were played with a team of 27 or more. This was the most significant Lakers comeback in the last 20 years. The most significant one was in 2002, when the Lakers were able to overcome a deficit of 30 points against, ironically Dallas Mavericks. Dallas Mavericks.
Perhaps most important this game was a proof of design for the new Lakers. Los Angeles won this game despite shooting 14 less 3 pointers than Dallas. This made their win the first time in NBA history where the winning team scored less than six 3-pointers, while the losers scored twenty or more.
The Lakers have been among the NBA’s most ineffective shooting teams all season. Even after the deadline to trade they are still at the lowest of their league. The difference in the league between “worst of the bunch” poor in comparison to “garden variety” terrible was significant on Sunday. The Lakers might not have made their shots but their shooters were regarded as good enough to warrant attention from the defense. The floor was opened enough to put them ahead of Dallas by 62-32 in the paint.
The Lakers would like to win games with paint. They have the players to achieve this. Their strategy didn’t change after they were lagging by 27 points. They played for 48 minutes and by the time the clock reached zero, they scored more points than their rival. With four wins from their five post-deadline games this is becoming a more frequent event. The Lakers haven’t only picked up an historic win this past Sunday. It was also the largest of their season so far. If they continue to play as they have been the sky’s going to be limitless during the final 2 months in the season.