The Los Angeles Lakers finally made their return to action following a prolonged hiatus due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to take on the Dallas Mavericks in their first of three scrimmages in the Orlando bubble.
While the Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, picked up where they left off before the break, they sat out the second half and Dallas ultimately came away with a 108-104 victory.
The Mavericks had no problem getting their offense going early on against the Lakers’ porous defense to start. Davis managed to respond with back-to-back buckets while Danny Green was able to find his stroke from deep by hitting his first two three-pointers to get the Purple and Gold on track.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was forced to go to the locker room after rolling his ankle in the first quarter, however, the injury was not deemed to be too serious and he was made available for Frank Vogel’s efforts to get an active rotation going. Meanwhile, Dion Waiters wasted no time making his presence felt after ending the first quarter on a high note for Los Angeles with a buzzer-beater three-pointer to secure a 29-22 lead after one.
The second quarter got off to a slow start for the Lakers as they allowed Dallas to climb back with a 9-0 run led by Luka Doncic’s six points to start the period. James found a way to make his presence felt by picking up the pace with a couple of easy buckets in the paint though and following it up with an alley-oop to Dwight Howard to help extend their lead to double digits.
Although both teams traded buckets down the stretch, the high-paced approach clearly favored the Lakers thanks to the combined efforts of James and Davis in transition. The pair combined for 24 points, six assists, four rebounds, and three steals to secure a 55-44 lead going into the break.
Vogel opted to sit all but two starters to start the second half and JaVale McGee put the onus on himself to serve as the stabilizing factor by scoring the Lakers’ first six points. Unfortunately, the increased workload on offense did not do much to help Kyle Kuzma find his footing as he continued to struggle from the field.
The dry spell on offense allowed Dallas to actually reclaim the lead this time around following an 11-0 run. They finished the third quarter ahead 77-74 thanks to a three-minute drought by L.A.
Devontae Cacok and Talen Horton-Tucker did what they could to pick up the slack with back-to-back buckets for their first points as Lakers. Waiters and JR Smith also saw their first game action as the Lakers look to piece together their second unit without Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and Alex Caruso, who missed the game with a minor back injury. The Mavericks kept their foot on the gas with two three-pointers from Boban Marjanovic and Maxi Kleber, however.
The Lakers, led by Horton-Tucker and Smith, closed the game strong, although it was not enough to get the win. Regardless, Vogel has to be happy with the effort his team showed, specifically in the first half and to close, in the team’s first game action in more than four months.