BY TEMITAYO OSILESI
The Lakers traveled to Dallas to face the Mavericks and accomplish two goals, even their series matchup and end their three-game slide. The team’s first win of the season came against the Brooklyn Nets last Friday and since then the team has yet to earn another, however, improvement has been apparent.
In the most recent game against he Orlando Magic, the Lakers had played well. The Lakers former No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell had his best game this season, Russell showed aggressiveness while maintaining the pace. Kobe had been out for back-to-back games on the road trip with a sore back. With less pressure from playing alongside future Hall of Famer, the rookie responded positively. Kobe has been inserted into the starting lineup once again, and it’s vital to the team’s success that he stay aggressive on both ends of the court. As far as the Mavericks are concerned, Chandler Parsons is still looking to have his comeback game producing as he can and has before his most recent injury.
The Los Angeles Lakers started the game with a decent offensive flow but missed their first two buckets. The first player to score for the Lakers was Kobe Bryant on his signature fadeaway, which he scored consecutively from each elbow. The Lakers lead the Mavericks 4-0. The Lakers started with decent defense and Jordan Clarkson grabbed his fist steal and the Lakers first fastbreak bucket. With high activity and finally the Lakers’ defense gave way to the fist bucket scored by the Mavericks. The Lakers’ offense continued to click, and D’Angelo Russell had assisted on the next two possessions giving Clarkson and Bryant their first three-point makes. The next few possessions happened sloppily, however, with 6 minutes left in the game the Lakers found themselves up 19-9. Lou Williams was the first player off the bench for Jordan Clarkson, and the Mavericks went on a 9-0 run. With about four minutes left in the first quarter, Nick Young had entered the game replacing Russell, and the Mavericks seemed to finally arrive at the stadium dissolving the 10-point lead the Lakers had. Largely due to Charlie Villanueva, who had scored on his first two three-point shots. The Lakers poorly defend the three-point shot of the Mavericks to allow a five-point lead with the game in the Mavericks control at 29-24.
The Dallas Mavericks scored their first possession in the second quarter taking their lead to the highest of the game. Kobe, now playing with the bench unit, had continued to be perfect from the field scoring the first bucket for the Lakers in the second quarter. Dirk Nowitzki had started to grove within his teams offense and consistently forced a switch of a Laker guard onto him creating a mismatch. After a few Mavericks scores, Nick Young was subbed and the Lakers’ second starter back was Jordan Clarkson. Lakers now down six with the game at 35-29. Close to midway through the game after his first made basket Larry Nance Jr is subbed for Julius Randle. As soon as he entered the game Julius looked to make a difference and assisted Jordan Clarkson’s second three-point shot on a drive and kick. Although aided by the Mavs missing some easy shots, the Lakers have been playing much better along with their superstar Kobe Bryant, who continued his hot shooting throughout the second quarter by taking smart shots. Bryant took little energy in finding a shot and was no longer taking ill-advised three-pointers midway through the shot clock. The Lakers had brought the game to within one point with three minutes remaining, however closing seems to be the Lakers biggest issue and this was very apparent when the Mavericks ended the quarter with a 5-0 run. With the last few possessions of the game, the Lakers foul the Mavericks allowing them to increase their lead. The Mavericks had scored a fast break bucket and with the ball in their hands and the for the last possession the Lakers’ defense fell to the speed of Devin Harris at the of the quarter ended the half, 48-40.
Starting the third quarter, the first Laker to score was Julius Randle with a stepback jumper, however, had committed two fouls the next possession giving free throws to the Mavericks. The Mavericks had figured the Laker defense out and was up 10 points exploiting the late rotations. The Lakers young core had started to show their worth and the franchise’s future with Clarkson, Russell, and Randle scoring in consecutive possessions. Clarkson and Russell with a three-pointer and Randle with two free throws. The Lakers have played much better, and consistency now shows to be a the team’s problem. They showed improvement by keeping the game within four points at 53-57 for the Mavericks. Bringing the game within four points with four minutes left in the game the Lakers end two possessions with foul calls and have awarded bonus free throw shots for any consecutive fouls committed. The game didn’t get any prettier, Brandon Bass, another Laker player performing below expectations, had back-to-back turnovers the Lakers now at a total of 17 turnovers for the game. Looking for a real spark to their game to overcome the now six-point lead owned by the Mavericks the Lakers fail at closing the quarter give the Dallas Mavericks a lead of 9. The Lakers look to close the game at 55-64 in a low scoring battle.
The Lakers started their fourth quarter with Kobe’s first appearance at the free-throw line and had scored on both shots. Brandon Bass looking to pick up his play had a great defensive stand blocking an attempt made by J.J. Barea and with the following possession Lou Williams had earned himself a trip to the free throw line. Hitting two of his three foul shots, the Lakers brought the Maverick lead down to three. A bright spot in a sort of odd game was the team’s commitment to their offense. Many times instead of playing isolation basketball Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, and Lou Williams engaged the offense looking for a shot for a teammate. The defense showed to be the reason the Lakers crawled back into the game with the Mavericks up one point. Lou Williams stole the ball from Deron Williams and scored an and-one basket bringing. Still showing that consistency is the Lakers new problem the Mavericks scored a three-pointer in the ensuing play putting the team back up four points. With the game close to over with seven minutes left Byron Scott went to his closing crew sans Kobe Bryant of Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Metta World Peace, and Roy Hibbert. Roy Hibbert was a beast at the end of the fourth blocking shots and grabbing offensive boards. D’Angelo Russell was able to make an appearance in the fourth quarter with 5 minutes left in the game, and he replaced Metta World Peace. Hibbert continued his strong play with 4 minutes left headed to the free throw line scoring on both attempts bringing the free throw line. In the Lakers next possession, D’Angelo had made a great play creating an easy basket for Lou Williams. Driving to the paint, Lou was fouled in the act of shooting however his was not awarded a foul shot. In his return to the defensive end of the court, he fouled the ball handler and earned himself a technical foul voicing his frustration to referee. Lou was immediately sat for the bone head play, and Kobe Bryant entered the game with the Lakers down 79-74. Lakers continue their defensive woes, and the Mavericks continue to miss open shots, D’Angelo Russell pulls the Lakers within 3 points with a little over 2 minutes left. Lakers offense, looks stagnate, and Metta World Peace drives to the basket, however, misses his layup over his shoulder luckily Roy Hibbert kept the ball within the play, and Jordan Clarkson rebounds the ball to score the inside flip shot. With the Lakers returning to defense ZaZa Pachulia was given a lane to the hoop opened up by a drive from Deron Williams and drew a foul from Hibbert, who committed his last foul. Pachulia puts his team up five and the Lakers look to score, however, the next possession ended with the Lakers taking two 3 point shots both missed. Kobe Bryant received an inbounded pass and took a contested shot from the three-point line that was quite makeable. The defensive rebound was stripped by Metta World Peace and collected by Brandon Bass, who dished it out to Metta World Peace on a corner three that was also missed. The following possessions for the Mavericks ended in free throws they ended the game, 82-92.