Dallas Mavericks

Game 44: Mavs vs. Lakers

DALLAS — Returning to their home floor looking to extend the team’s longest active winning streak over an opponent, the Dallas Mavericks eagerly looked forward to Saturday’s matinee matchup against the surging Los Angeles Lakers.

Looking to build on Tuesday’s 114-99 win over Orlando and a 115-111 victory the following night in Charlotte, the Mavericks tried to keep trending in the right direction. The Mavs also attempted to extend their 14-game winning streak over the Lakers, who came to town riding a three-game winning stretch of their own. But despite an impressive performance from rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks (15-29) saw their win streak in the head-to-head series come to an end following a 107-101 overtime defeat.

“We’ll figure it out at practice. We’ve got to hit the film room and see what we did wrong. There were a couple of errors that you can point out, but we need to watch film to be more precise in certain situations. We had a 10-point lead, and we’ve got to capitalize on that at the end of games,” Smith said after the loss.

One game after scoring 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s win, Mavs leading scorer Harrison Barnes got his team on the board with a three-pointer. Meanwhile, Smith looked to win his individual matchup with No. 2 selection Lonzo Ball, swishing back-to-back threes of his own to put the Mavericks up 11-10.

However, with big man Julius Randle off to a fast start back in his hometown, the Lakers (15-27) surged in front. And after Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was handed a technical foul for arguing with the officials at the the 2:27 mark of the first, the Lakers slid into the second stanza with a 31-20 advantage under their belt.

“We didn’t make enough shots, and defensively our edge wasn’t there to start the game,” Carlisle confessed.

Welcoming a three from veteran reserve Devin Harris early in the second period, the Mavericks quickly pulled back within single digits. Fellow reserves J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell also began to contribute, connecting on a pair of lob passes at the rim. Powell’s and-one score with 6:22 remaining in the half then brought the Mavs within four at 39-35.

Smith then slid back into the scoring column with a thunderous two-handed slam in transition. Smith stayed on the attack from there with an up-and-under score to tie the game at 43-all with 3:54 before the half. Back-to-back threes from swingman Wesley Matthews and Smith then put the Mavs up 49-43. And after second-year standout Yogi Ferrell’s triple capped a 17-2 Dallas run, the Mavericks took a 52-46 margin into the halftime intermission.

Led by Smith’s 17-point first half on 6-of-11 shooting, the Mavericks led at the midway mark while being outshot through two quarters, 45.5 percent to 41.9 percent. The Mavs also overcame the Lakers’ 28-18 rebounding advantage, forcing nine L.A. turnovers compared to their own four giveaways.

Putting the ball back in the hands of Smith, the Mavericks tried to keep the Lakers at bay in the third quarter. Matthews lent some assistance, scoring from the post to put the Mavs up 63-56 with 8:03 left in the third.

However, the Lakers clawed back after center Brook Lopez’s three cut the separation to four. Randle’s transition slam then forced Carlisle into a timeout with his team nursing a 63-61 edge and 5:01 left in the quarter. Two free throws by Randle then knotted the game at 65-all. But after rookie Kyle Kuzma put the Lakers ahead 68-67, the Mavs surged back ahead to take a 73-70 edge into the final period.

Ignited by Powell’s two-handed slam early in the fourth, the Mavericks again threatened to distance themselves. Dirk Nowitzki’s three-pointer then put the Mavs up 80-70 with 9:30 left to play as the 13-time All-Star tried to help his team finish the Lakers off.

Not to be outdone, Kuzma kept the Lakers in the game with a three-pointer of his own to trim the Dallas lead to 80-75, leading to Carlisle’s timeout at the 7:55 mark. Matthews then ended a 7-0 L.A. run, swishing a three to keep the Lakers at bay. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope responded with the Lakers’ next five points. And after Kuzma’s floater inside put the Lakers up one, Randle’s 1-of-2 trip to the free-throw line extended L.A.’s lead to 85-83 with 3:59 on the clock.

Sensing their team needed them to step up, Barnes and Ferrell immediately answered with back-to-back scores. But after Caldwell-Pope’s three put the Lakers back up two, scores by reserve guard Jordan Clarkson and Randle lifted the visiting team to a 92-87 edge with 1:25 on the game clock. Barnes’ two free throws kept the Mavericks in the game. Clarkson and Barnes exchanged jumpers from there. Smith then made the margin one with a driving score. Caldwell-Pope split a pair of free throws from there with 11.6 seconds remaining in regulation to put the Lakers up two. Carlisle then went to Barnes out of a timeout, tying the game after the versatile forward banked in a driving shot over Randle with 5.9 seconds left. The Dallas defense took matters from there, scrambling to force Ball into a contested miss as the game went into an extra period.

“We gave up the 10-point lead in the fourth, and we obviously lost the defensive edge there. And then we did a great job of making up a five-point deficit with a minute and a half in the fourth to get it to overtime. Then, we just weren’t able to stop them. That was really it,” Carlisle foreshadowed.

Starting the overtime with Clarkson’s three from the top of the key, the Lakers struck first in the extra five minutes. Ferrell and Ball then exchanged scores before Smith’s two free throws made it a one-point game. Randle’s turnaround jumper over Barnes and Clarkson’s jumper extended the Lakers’ lead to five. Meanwhile, the Mavs’ offensive attack grew stagnant before an offensive foul on Randle sent the ball back to Dallas with 48.5 seconds left.

Matthews’ two free throws with 42.1 ticks on the clock cut the deficit to three. But after Randle rebounded Ball’s driving miss and scored in traffic, the Lakers opened up a 106-101 lead with 18.3 seconds on the clock. Ferrell’s miss from three then sealed the Mavericks’ fate before the Lakers finished the game off at the foul line.

Scoring 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting, Smith led the Mavericks in a losing effort. Barnes and Matthews added 17 points apiece in the first unit, and Powell finished with 13 points off the bench. Ferrell pitched in 11 points to give the Mavericks five scorers in double figures.

“They were just being super aggressive. That’s all it was,” Smith said of the Lakers’ second-half defense. “I was stepping into my shots with a bunch of confidence. Second half, they didn’t really do anything impressive. They were throwing a bunch of different guys at me — KCP, Clarkson, (Josh) Hart. You know, they were taking turns on me, trying to keep a fresh body on me. But it wasn’t anything that they did special.”

Randle led four Lakers in double figures with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, grabbing 15 rebounds to boot. The Lakers also outshot the Mavs for the game, 45.3 percent to 37.8 percent, adding a 59-39 rebounding advantage to overcome the 17 Dallas points scored off 15 L.A. turnovers.

“When you shoot 37.8 (percent) and don’t have your defensive edge there the entire game, it’s going to be hard to win an NBA game against a quality opponent,” Carlisle concluded. “Give [the Lakers] credit. I thought they came in with as much force as I’ve seen with them the last couple of years. They played a really terrific game from a competitive standpoint the entire game.”

“You know, I think it goes back to the beginning of the game. Just in general, we kind of let them get comfortable. A lot of that starts with me and with Randle on the block,” Barnes confessed. “You know, I have to be better defensively. Offensively, I couldn’t get going, either. But when we get out-rebounded by 20, let them get in transition and pretty much feel comfortable the entire game, that’s what’s going to allow them to cut our lead and win the game.”

Note: The Mavericks will now travel to Denver for Tuesday’s matchup against the Nuggets. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 122-105 home win on Dec. 4. The game will tip off at 8 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Jan. 22 against the Washington Wizards. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 113-99 road win on Nov. 7. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

DALLAS — Carrying the momentum of back-to-back wins, the Dallas Mavericks will now square off with a team that’s just as hot as they are during a matinee matchup Saturday at home.

Cruising to a 114-99 victory Tuesday over Orlando before completing a daunting back-to-back the following night with a 115-111 win in Charlotte, the Mavericks (15-28) surged to six wins in the last nine games. The Mavs will now attempt to extend their longest active winning streak against an opponent, entering Saturday’s showdown having won the previous 14 games against the Los Angeles Lakers. But with the Lakers (14-27) riding their own three-game winning streak coming into Saturday, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle knows his team will be in for another dogfight on its home floor.

“They’re playing great basketball in the last five days with three games in five days, I think. And look, we’re catching these guys at a bad time,” Carlisle confessed. “They play with a lot of confidence, they’re going extremely hard, they beat the third-best team in the West (Thursday night), which is no easy feat, so it’s a tough game.”

Rookie point guards Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. were two of the top prospects in last June’s NBA Draft, entering the league at the same time while hoping to lead their respective teams to more success than the previous season. Now, after going No. 2 and No. 9 in the draft, respectively, Ball and Smith find themselves matched up against each other for the first time in their promising careers Saturday night.

Starring at UCLA during his lone collegiate season, Ball went to his hometown team in the Lakers with plenty of high expectations as the second overall pick. Meanwhile, Smith fell to the Mavericks with the ninth selection after a year at North Carolina State, joining a veteran-laden team that was hoping to bounce back following a 33-49 campaign last season. Ball is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists on the season. Vice versa, Smith is posting averages of 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists thus far. However, with both the Mavericks and the Lakers sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the first-year floor generals have faced adversity early in their rookie seasons. Still, according to 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, Smith has shown signs of developing into a budding star during the seasons to come.

“Well, you know, the rookie season is tough, especially if you’re the point guard. There’s a lot of great players out there, and [Smith] is going to have a challenge every night,” Nowitzki admitted. “Hopefully he can stay healthy here, get better from week to week, month to month, learn the rules, learn about some of those players and read the game better. But like I said, the sky is the limit. The kid is only 20, and he’s going to have a great, great future. But the first year is always tough. I don’t care who you are.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

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