The Los Angeles Lakers earned a bit of payback as they defeated a Dallas Mavericks team that beat them at the beginning of December to move to 26-7 during the 2019-20 NBA season.
Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers in scoring by dropping 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting while LeBron James recorded a double-double (13 points and 13 assists). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also provided a scoring spark off the bench, chipping in with 19 points including four three-pointers.
However, it was Los Angeles defense that won them the game as they held Dallas to only 36 percent from the field and 30 percent from three, packing the paint on drives and contesting jumpers along the perimeter.
Davis discussed how refocusing on defense has helped them be successful in the past two games.
“We just have to find ourselves again. It started with the defensive end. We’re able to get back to what we do defensively and when we do that we’re able to beat any team and feel good about ourselves,” Davis said.
“We’ve been able to do that the last two games against two really great offensive teams. When we do what we’re supposed to do on the defensive end and we play with a lot of pace — sharing the basketball, getting in the passing lanes and getting steals and deflections — we’re a tough team to beat.”
Davis has been vocal about how the Lakers had seemingly lost their defensive edge earlier in the month as they were uncharacteristically allowing opposing teams to get the shots they wanted. However, they have turned it around the past week, resembling the defensive force they were at the beginning of the season and it has resulted in two quality wins.
The last time Dallas came to Staples Center, they took advantage of Los Angeles sending multiple defenders to wall off the paint by moving the ball enough to get wide-open threes they managed to hit. The Lakers learned from their mistakes and head coach Frank Vogel had his players sticking closer to home on the Mavericks shooters this time around.
Davis has harped on the purple and gold’s defensive effort all season and he has every right to do so as they have been by far and away a more dangerous team when they are clicking on the defensive end. Hopefully, these past two games serve as a reminder of how this iteration of the Lakers can compete with anyone as long as they remain locked in.