The Stars were out in full force in Game 2 of the NBA’s Christmas Day slate as LeBron James and Luka Doncic put on a show for the Dallas Mavericks 124-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite his best efforts, James was unable to help the visiting Lakers hold on to their early lead as the Mavericks attacked them during the third quarter. Dallas scored a historic 51 points, a Christmas Day record that was too much for Los Angeles.
Donczyk would grab most of the headlines following a triple-double performance of 32 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, while Mavericks All-Star offensive end Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for 56 points. Points on a win. On the other end of the spectrum, LeBron put up the type of superstar numbers we’ve seen over the years, finishing with 38 points, six rebounds and five assists, but the rest of the Lakers’ roster didn’t support him enough. To work on the road.
With the win, Dallas improved to 18-16 on the season, while Los Angeles fell to 13-20.
1. The Mavericks exploded to break this game open in the third quarter
Things couldn’t have been worse than the Mavericks did in the first half against the Lakers. They shot 39.5 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from 3-point range and trailed an Anthony Davis-less Lakers by 11 points. Based on how bad things went in the first two quarters, Dallas was forced to turn things around, but no one could have predicted the Mavericks’ 51-point outburst over the Lakers on a 20-5 run at the top of the 82. 65 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
At the end of the third frame, Dallas led 94-75, and their 51 points total tied not only the Christmas Day record, but also the Mavericks record for most points scored in a single quarter. Most points in a quarter this season. It was all thanks to nine 3s, four of which came from Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 16 of his 26 points in the third quarter. Doncic also joined in the third-quarter fun, scoring 13 of his 32 points in those 12 minutes and dishing out six assists in the process.
It wasn’t like the Mavericks were doing anything stylistically different in the third quarter, it was as simple as guys knocking down shots. That’s been the story for Dallas all season. When this team cooks from 3-point territory, they’re hard to beat. The Mavericks are making the second-most open 3s this season, but in making them, they’re in the middle of the pack at 38.1 percent, which is 15th in the league. The first half was a version of the Mavericks not hitting their wide-open looks, while the third quarter was a hard swing in the other direction with nearly every shot inside. It’s not sustainable going forward, but it’s a positive sign. Dallas could turn things around in the middle of a game and see players like struggling Reggie Bullock get out of a slump.
2. LeBron James vs. Everyone
We already knew that James would have to go all out for the Lakers to have a chance in this game, because without Davis on the floor they don’t have much depth behind their two stars. But still, LeBron outscored four Lakers starters who scored just 32 points. Russell Westbrook did his best to provide some help off the bench, going for 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Austin Reaves had 16 points. Win multiple games. Shooting has been a chronic problem for the Lakers this season, especially when the team is shooting 32.1 percent from 3-point range. LA ranks 26th in the league in 3-point percentage, and they shot just a hair below their season average, proving once again that this team needs shooters to compete in the West. LeBron also went 0 of 4 from deep, but when he does everything wrong, it’s a small blip on the radar.
While the Lakers shot 53.5 percent from the field in the first half and sent Danzig double-teamed on every trip, every other Mavericks player was forced to put up points, which they struggled to do. The Lakers built 14-point leads on two separate occasions in the first half, but once Dallas started to catch fire at halftime, LA didn’t have the weapons to keep up the pace.
It’s the latest example of Lakers fans showing GM Rob Belinka that this team needs to make one or more moves if it has any chance of making the playoffs or play-in.
3. Christian Wood shows why he should be in the starting lineup
For the sixth straight game, Wood was in the Mavericks’ starting lineup, and it may have been his best game in a Mavericks uniform. He finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocks. It was a complete performance on offense, and he had several key defensive possessions, showing he’s willing to put in the effort on that end of the floor. Wood had 15 points at halftime, which was a big reason the Lakers’ lead wasn’t any bigger than it already was, and he continued his strong play out of the break.
Given Wood’s current status, it’s the perfect time to have such a dazzling performance Eligible for a four-year, $77 million contract extension. Wood is in the final year of his contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but if the Mavericks want to keep the big man this season, signing him now is the best option, as the price will rise if he continues to improve. Given how things went with Jalen Brunson, where Dallas could have offered him a midterm contract extension but passed on the offer, and losing him to the Knicks as an unrestricted free agent last summer, they don’t want that to happen again. Their plan is to have Wood pass this season.