The Los Angeles Lakers managed to keep two separate streaks alive in a 122-111 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. Their current losing streak has reached eight games, and it was their 14th straight defeat to the Mavericks. Despite the final score which was relatively close, this was another massacre that was over in the first quarter. It is noteworthy to report that Dirk Nowitzki reached a significant scoring milestone, scoring his 30,000th point, only the sixth player in history to achieve that feat.
Several Lakers finished with good stat lines offensively, but it was not enough to overcome a non-existent defense. Dallas, last in the league in scoring at 96 points per game, scored 70 points in the first half alone reached 101 points at the end of the third quarter, before taking their foot off the gas. After the game, Coach Luke Walton referred to his team as “soft” defensively. Dallas exploited this weakness, connecting on 17 of 31 three-pointers and shooting 60 percent overall for the game.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the loss to New Orleans.
1. Five Lakers Scored in Double Figures.
Dallas has emerged as one of the top defensive teams in the league, but the Lakers were able to score 111 points which was a solid offensive effort. Jordan Clarkson was consistent throughout, finishing with 22 points on an efficient 9-of-16 from the field and 4-of-8 from three-point range. Clarkson played his usual aggressive game and actually started the second half for one of the few times this season.
D’Angelo Russell also scored 22 points for the purple and gold, knocking down 8-of-17 shots but only 2-of-6 from three-point range. Russell had four assists and four steals.
Other Lakers who contributed on the offensive end were Julius Randle, Nick Young, and Brandon Ingram, each of whom scored 13 points. Corey Brewer was aggressive and finished with nine points in 13 minutes.
2. Julius Randle Finished With His Third Triple-Double of the Season.
Power forward Julius Randle had his third triple-double of the season – the youngest player in NBA history to achieve that feat – finishing with 18 rebounds and 10 assists to go along with 13 points. He connected on only 3-of-8 shots from the floor but made 7-of-8 free throws.
Any triple-double is worth celebrating, and this game was another sign of Randle’s potential. Yet, despite his gaudy stats, the Lakers were a minus 15 when he was in the game, which was a sign of just how poorly Randle and the entire team played on defense.
Randle’s energy level for the game was moderate. He has played harder, but he has also played with less energy. With Randle, most nights his game is defined by how hard he plays. When he musters sufficient energy, he usually plays well and contributes. When he does not, he tends to disappear. As the season winds down, it is important for Randle to show he can consistently play hard and bring energy on both ends of the court.
3. Tyler Ennis and Corey Brewer Could Turn Out to Be Good Additions to the Roster
When the Lakers recently traded Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets, most people focused on the first-round draft pick they received in return. However, the trade also netted the team a veteran in Corey Brewer.
Brewer, at 31, is a 10-year veteran who has bounced around from team to team, although it has never been clear why. He is a solid player on both ends of the court and plays with energy. He does not get flustered and is capable of making big plays from time to time. He makes a lot less money, but as a player in the mind of many observers, he is in the same basic category as Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov.
Ennis, who was also acquired before the NBA trade deadline, age 22 and in his third season, was the 18th pick of the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. He is friends with Clarkson, they have reportedly practiced together the past three years, and it shows, as they seem to have a connection on the court. He is a marked upgrade over Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas, who were the backups at point guard most of the season.
Brewer is a known quantity, but Ennis is going to get playing time the rest of the season, and it will be interesting to see how he performs.