Anthony Davis hole is painfully obvious as Lakers fall just short vs Mavs

Jan 12, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) moves the ball against Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the first half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) moves the ball against Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the first half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers were back on national television, much to Charles Barkley’s (Friend to the website) chagrin to take on the Dallas Mavericks. After sitting out earlier this week against the Denver Nuggets, LeBron James returned to the lineup.

The Lake Show Life staff took Christmas Day off and did not cover the previous matchup between the two teams, but the sensitivity is so high these days from readers, maybe it was a good thing. The Dallas Mavericks embarrassed the Lake Show to the tune of…

  • Allowing the Dallas Mavericks to set a franchise record for scoring in a quarter with 51 points in the infamous third-quarter disasters eliminating an 11-point halftime lead that ended in a blowout.
  • The Dallas Mavericks, with a Christian Wood miss, allowed the Lakers to avoid a franchise record for defensive futility. 
  • The Lakers were the talk of the rest of the holidays as they quit in that third quarter leading to the low point of the season.

In the first ten minutes of this game, it looked like a repeat performance as the Dallas Mavericks roared out to a double-digit lead, but LeBron James, Thomas Bryant and especially Russell Westbrook stayed focused and really grinded to make the game entertaining at the end.

The Los Angeles Lakers have gone from an embarrassment to a potentially dangerous team in between these two games against the Dallas Mavericks. As bad as the previous game was, this one was epic and almost heroic.

The Lakers pushed the Mavs to two overtimes before finally falling 119-115. Lakers Nation, this might have been the best game of the season and that includes the Boston game. Everyone on both sides played as hard as they could and this game was as close to the ’90s era as the 2023 NBA will allow.

There’s a ton to unpack. Let’s get to it!

The good from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss:  

Russell Westbrook in the first quarter!

Sure, this is a very strange-looking headline, but understand the Lakers were down 36-22 after the first 12 minutes. This point of the game would have been catastrophic if it wasn’t for Russell Westbrook. Dallas was coasting along with little resistance from the Lake Show until Russ got involved by changing the pace and being aggressive. He scored 8 points on 3-5 shooting. After attacking him on offense…

He even played both ends of the floor by guarding Luka Doncic. Westbrook’s play kept the Los Angeles Lakers somewhat from getting another Christmas stocking beatdown by Dallas before the huge run in the second quarter. His energy is the major reason why the Lakers kept things close after falling behind 19 points in the first quarter!

Russ finished with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. His defense really slowed Luka more than the box score will tell you. He matched Luka Doncic’s level of play and continues to rehab his career. Fans are going to miss this dude when he’s gone.

This probably was one of the more enjoyable games this writer has seen from LeBron James!

The debates on LeBron’s production and number as it pertains to wins will continue for the rest of the year. This game here was enjoyable because LeBron really had to play hard and take some serious punishment to get his numbers.

This game had to get ugly for the Lakers to get back into it and LeBron got his hands dirty. He didn’t float out at the 3-point line, he just attacked…again…and again.

When Russ set the tone by gashing the interior defense, LeBron followed suit and continued the punishment in the paint. He roughed up Doncic on a drive with an elbow to the ribs that had Luka wincing.

He finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists in a game that was extremely physical on both sides. That was a tired 3-point attempt late, but when you play 47 minutes of two-way basketball…hey it happens.

For the fans that complain about meaningless numbers in a blowout…this writer knows this dude’s game and knows every number in the box score mattered and was earned. LeBron played basketball and adjusted his style of play accordingly.

Yes, he could have played in the 90’s and survived just fine.

Wenyen Gabriel in crunch time!

Just outstanding. 14 points and 7 rebounds.

The bad from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss:  

Man…Christian Wood is playing maybe his best stretch of basketball in his career!

Christian Wood is an example of a young player that hadn’t found a niche in the league yet. He bounces around a few teams and then he just gets hot. Christian Wood is flat-out balling. He went from possibly moving on to another team next year, to coming off the bench to a major contributor as a starter.

He dropped 30 points on the Lakers in the previous matchup and the beat just went right on in this one! He was outstanding blocking LeBron’s shot to send the game into double overtime and Russ’ in the second five-minute session.

Wood finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks.

The Los Angeles Lakers officially have maybe the worst transition defense in the NBA!

The Dallas Mavericks are dead last in the NBA in pace. The average less than 10 points in fast break production. They looked like the Showtime Lakers in the first quarter. The Lakers are so bad in transition defense that Jason Kidd made it a point to get his players to push the pace which got them out to a big lead!

3-point shooting!

10-41 is not going to win a lot of NBA games. There were a few shots from beyond the arc that caught a stiff breeze from open windows with airballs from the corners. They got hot late but if close of half of these shots go down, this is a different analysis.

The referees… 

The loyal readers of this website (Which the writer cherishes and thanks!) know that if the referees make the post-game report, they were very bad. The rules of the NBA referees is this as far as Lake Show Life is concerned…they can be consistently good or bad, but not inconsistent. The refs were very inconsistent and this game dragged a little bit. Both teams were aggressive enough to the rim to draw fouls and they did not come.

The story from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss:

The Los Angeles Lakers eventually will need Anthony Davis back for defensive purposes! 
This analysis goes back to the previous matchup over the Christmas holiday. The Lakers started out defensively blitzing Doncic with double teams that got the ball out of his hands. In the first half, it was working because the Mavericks’ shooters couldn’t hit open shots. In the second half, the scheme was figured out and Dallas wore out the Lakers from beyond the arc in the second half.

In this game, Darvin Ham tried to use a drop coverage defensive scheme, while mixing it up with a few blitz packages. That didn’t work because it allowed Luka to get into a rhythm plus his teammates were hitting 3-point shots. In the previous matchup, the Lakers sped Luka up for a half, but this game…not so much.

This is where the Los Angeles Lakers really miss Anthony Davis as a rim protector. This is why the team is bringing in Meyers Leonard (Good luck with the public relations!) and Demarcus Cousins for a tryout on Friday.

Anthony Davis, as crazy as it sounds out loud is more important to the Lakers as a defender than the offensive explosions he provides. Thomas Bryant has been amazing but he struggles defending out past the elbow to the 3-point line. It might be one of the reasons Ham had Wenyen Gabriel playing in the overtimes. These packages do work because Luka was in a broom closet as the Lakers finished their comeback and almost stole one BUT…

Darvin Ham coached the perfect game, but made one mistake!

This writer is in love with what Darvin Ham is doing. His schemes are amazing without Anthony Davis. His usage of Russ shadowing Luka Doncic up the floor along with double teams kept him scoreless for 17 minutes. At the end of regulation, he went away from it…

You can’t let Doncic shoot the ball in that situation. Double him…triple him…let the Lakers surround him. He can’t shoot. Reggie Bullock can’t throw the ball in the ocean standing underwater and you can live with Tim Hardaway Jr. Then the Lakers allowed him another chance in the first overtime. Can’t do this.

But that takes nothing away from the Mavs superstar. Luka finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists. Sometimes you have to shake a man’s hand!