Sometimes, you just don’t know what to say or even do.
This is the ending to the Lakers vs Mavericks contest:
This was the exact same play that happened in their loss to Indiana on November 28th of last year. So this is the second time this has happened to them. And these are so magnified because the Lakers are trying to claw into the play-in game. More on this later.
I’ve talked about focus with this team. While they played well enough in the first quarter, they melted down in the second period where they were letting the Mavs shoot threes like they were about to go out of style (no, they’ll never go out of style). The Mavericks outscored the Lakers in that quarter, 33-21, and L.A. looked indifferent for most of those 12 minutes.
It looked more of the same in the third quarter early on. Kyrie Irving scored the first 6 points of the period to boost the Dallas lead to 68-54. Finally, the Lakers woke up and went on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 81-80. But the Mavericks quickly countered with 8 unanswered and went into the fourth with an 89-80 lead.
I had mentioned how the Lakers seem to do a lot more damage in the fourth as of late. Maybe it’s because they finally realize by that point that they’re playing a professional basketball game. The Lakers took a 97-96 lead after an Austin Reaves floater. L.A. looked mostly in control in the closing minutes. Even with D’Angelo Russell missing a clinching three, they still had a 109-105 lead with 17 seconds left as Dallas hurried to their side of the court for any sort of good play.
Anthony Davis foolishly fouled Maxi Kleber on a three-pointer with 7.2 seconds left. You just scratch your head on that one. Kleber made all three foul shots.
Davis got fouled quickly on the inbounds play. And he ended up… splitting his foul shots. It was a 110-108 lead by the Lakers with 6.5 seconds left.
And well, you saw the game-winning play on the top of this column. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating. This is March Madness, after all. (Yes, I know March Madness applies to college basketball but stay with me here, guys.)
We can look at the three-point shooting. Mavs were 16 for 34 (.471) while the Lakers were not good at 5 for 20 (.250). We can look at the free throw shooting, which ended up biting them in the butt big-time (19 for 30, .633). We can look at Anthony Davis’s trifecta of disastrous plays (fouling Kleber, splitting the foul shots, and giving Kleber way too much space in the closing seconds). But they also shouldn’t have been down 14 in the third quarter because of their lack of focus. They didn’t play terribly but they had awful stretches during the game and they did them at crucial times.
And it outright sucks because the Lakers keep getting these second, third, fourth, and 18th opportunities and they keep blowing them. The Warriors, Pelicans, Wolves (who lost Anthony Edwards to a sprained ankle), and Blazers all lost on Friday night. They could’ve moved up in the standings but instead they’re teetering at the 10th spot with a 34-37 record. These last two losses (this one and against Houston) have been huge and it’s definitely going to make a big difference at the end of the season.
Oh, yeah. Obligatory individual stats. Kyrie Irving was all over the Lakers with 38 points. On L.A.’s side, Anthony Davis had 26 points and 10 boards. D’Angelo Russell also had a double-double (11 points, 11 assists) but went 0 for 6 from three. I’m guessing he would really want that last three back. Wenyen Gabriel’s hustle won’t be ignored; he came off the bench to score 9 points and grab 11 boards.
It’s obviously not over for the Lakers; there are still 11 games left. But they keep bungling like this and there won’t be any more games this season beyond those 11.
The Lakers are running out of chances. And running out of road.