Lakers vs. Mavericks NBA Christmas Day takeaways: Anthony Davis, LeBron James win over Los Angeles


Luca Donsick may be the future of the NBA, but Christmas was proof that the league’s current still resides in Los Angeles a lot. If anything, the NBA’s best player’s throne as LeBron James’ successor may just be his own partner. Anthony Davis dominated a 16-point shoot en route to a 138-point Lakers victory to a score of 28 points en route to outscore the defending champions by 1–1 to 500. The Mavericks, meanwhile, are now 0-2 as they await the return of star big man Christaps Porringis.

The Lakers’ 138 points are one of the best offensive performances of the LeBron James era. This would be their second-highest total last season, and came in a game in which James and Davis had a total length of just 61 minutes. Meanwhile, Dallas has yet to resolve the defensive issues that led to Porzingis’ absence. Without a true rim-keeper, he had no match for a Lakers team that has made meaningful improvements to last season’s championship roster.

From here only things get easier for the Lakers. Seven of their next eight rivals missed the 2020 playoffs. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will face the Clippers, the next star-studded Los Angeles team on Sunday. Here are the four biggest takeaways from their Christmas performances.

1. D means “depth”

“Who is the Lakers’ third scorer?” The key question for the 2019-20 season was. It eventually turned out not to speak. The Lakers were so good on defense that it only took a bit of shooting time to get the James-Davis pair on top. Rob Pelinka went to work, with an offseason to overcome the lack of complementary scoring. He came with the top two sixth Man of the Year finishers from last season: Dennis Schroder and Montreal Hurrell, and his influence is thus clarified.

Kuzma and Kentavius ​​Caldwell-Pope were the third and fourth leading scorers in last season’s roster, and overall, they accounted for about 17.7 percent of the team’s total points. The Schroder-Harrell combination has scored nearly 28.7 percent of the Lakers so far this season, and they helped the Lakers achieve a rare feat by last season’s standards over Christmas: James won minutes spent on the bench. Kuzma has, at best, rejoined the fifth scorer position on this roster. This is why teams are expected to push the Lakers up their ranks as the NBA’s best team.

2. Dallas is not close to full force

Dallas’ opening night loss to Phoenix was familiar. After finishing 2–11 in a one-possession game last season, they failed to close out another game in the fourth quarter on Wednesday. The Christmas demolition he experienced against the Lakers is another matter, and another symbol of the concerns facing this team, without Christaps Porringis.

The Lakers won the rebounding battle 26. Porzingis probably closed that gap. It made it difficult for the Lakers to double-team Doncic or select him in full-court, which the Lakers did during their win. Only Luca is going to keep the Mavericks. They would remain in the playoff race until Porzingis returned, and would later rise to the standings. But the idea that Dallas could succeed without its second-best player took a big hit tonight, and with it, Donsey’s MVP was expected.

3. Lebron is embracing his age

Let’s take a look at the shooting of Lebron over the past several seasons

weather

3-point attempts per game

2015-16

3.7

2016-17

4.6

2017-18

5

2018-19

5.9

2019-20

6.3

There is a general trendline here. As James grows older, he is relying more and more on 3-pointers. In addition, he is more and more heavily reliant long 3-indicated. James took 21 30-foot shots last season. He had never topped 14 in a season before this. There is general knowledge for this. Shooting the 3S is easier on the body than attacking a boxet, especially when they are 3D wide open (which is the forward shooting). The more floors James has, the more energy he can conserve for the moments in which he needs to turn into an attacker.

He has taken this approach even further this season. Lebron has taken eight 3-pointers in each of the first two matches played this season. It’s impressive, but even more so when you remember that he played a total of 59 minutes this season. James spent 32 percent of his career attempts last season 3 times last season, career-high, but this season? He is at 45.7 percent. No two Lebron seasons are the same. He commits his game constantly to teammates and to aging himself. But this is his most aggressive axle, and the best chance we can ever see him for a 3-point shooting season overall.

4. Christmas Kuzma

Look, the four-game samples are pointless, but if you’re looking for a fun Holiday State, Kyle Kuzma basically turns into Stephen Curry over Christmas. As a rogue, he shot 6-of-11 from behind the arc at the start of his holiday, hitting eight of his 19 3-point attempts in the three Christmas games he has played since. This is a total of 14 -30 or 46.6 percent, compared to 33.1 percentage points for his career at large. Calling him Curry may be understanding him. The two-time MVP of Golden State made up only 43.4 percent of his career long-distance attempts.

Is it permanent or meaningful? not a bit. But, hey, if you’re a Laker, you’re probably going to play a lot of Christmas games, so a little holiday magic doesn’t hurt.

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