Lakers orchestrate biggest comeback win of the season against Mavs

The Lakers were down by as many as 27 points. And they somehow won.

Well, I’ll do my best to explain what happened.

Because what happened felt nothing short of a miracle. The Lakers were down by 27 points… and they made a furious comeback to beat the Dallas Mavericks, 111-108.

And it really looked friggin’ bleak, too.

The Lakers couldn’t make a three to save their lives. And Dallas was pretty much making everything from the outside. L.A. missed their first 14 three-pointers and was down, 48-21, in the second quarter. Dallas looked on their way to winning their third straight game against the Lakers this season.

Still, the Lakers didn’t give up. It felt like a ho-hum kind of second quarter because of the way the Mavericks were cruising. But before we all knew it, the Lakers actually made a couple of shots from behind the arc. And the Mavs had a few seemingly silly turnovers. L.A. finished the half with a 10-2 run and the halftime score was respectable, 61-47. The Lakers were 3 for 21 (.143) from three in that first half compared to… 12 for 23 (.522) by the Mavericks. It was a ridiculous +27 advantage.

The Mavs were still making a few threes to start the third but the game got increasingly sloppy for them. And then Jarred Vanderbilt took over. He was everywhere as he got all the rebounds, garbage points, and hustled all around the place on both sides. Vanderbilt was hugely responsible for a 16-3 run in that third period. Suddenly, the Lakers were within striking distance at 75-71, Dallas.

Right at the end of that run, though, LeBron James hurt his foot. He said he had “heard a pop” but he stayed in the game, anyway. Definitely more on this in a bit.

LeBron James converted on five straight points to give the Lakers an 83-81 lead to start the fourth. From there, we saw a back and forth affair that got a little chippy. With LeBron not moving as well as he usually did, he used his footwork on the post and got free for lay-ups like it was the 90s. After Anthony Davis made a putback jam, another LeBron lay-up put the Lakers up, 106-103.

Kyrie Irving countered with a putback with 32 seconds left. But Davis got Luka Doncic on isolation and made an easy fadeaway J. In the ensuing inbounds pass, Luka couldn’t handle the Kyrie inbounds pass and threw the ball away. Davis got fouled and split his foul shots to put the lead to four. Justin Holiday got a concession three-point basket with 6.5 seconds left (LeBron gave him way too much space there). Dennis Schröder was fouled thereafter with 2.2 seconds left and he made both free throws to give the Lakers a three-point lead. With no timeouts, they got the ball to Kyrie and he heaved a halfcourt shot that went short. And the Lakers somehow got another comeback victory out of this.

I can’t say enough about how Vanderbilt changed the course of the game. He defended pretty much everybody, gobbled all the rebounds, even made some nice passes, and gave the Lakers much-needed second chance points. He scored 15 points, got 17 rebounds, and had four steals (8 points, 8 rebounds, and three steals in the third quarter alone). He was marvelous.

Anthony Davis’s play got louder as the game went on. He was the last line of defense for the Lakers and made sure the Mavericks couldn’t do anything inside. He had 30 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks.

LeBron James gutted it out after he got hurt and brought an old man game in the fourth. The Mavericks were too small against him and they couldn’t figure out LeBron’s footwork and up-and-under moves. He scored 26 points.

Dennis Schröder (16 points, 8 assists) and Austin Reaves (9 points) made some big shots in the second half and aggravated the Mavericks with their attack on both ends of the court. They were huge in that fourth quarter.

The Mavericks got off to a great start but cooled off in the second half. Luka Doncic looked on his way to having a big offensive game but, considering how he scored 14 points in the first quarter, to end with 26 was disappointing. Kyrie Irving finished with 21 points, 11 boards, and 5 assists. Tim Hardaway, Jr. had 17 points but he also blew two dunks (though the first one was quickly rebounded and got a putback). Yikes.

The Lakers defense was incredible in the second half as they were able to close out on shooters better and rotate in a crisp manner. And when they got inside, Anthony Davis was there to stop them. It’s easy to see why teams probably don’t want to see this version of the Lakers in the postseason. Their pieces fit much better and they have two superstars that can carry them. They have now won 4 of their last 5 games. And they did it without D’Angelo Russell.

Hopefully, Russell will be back in their upcoming back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Still, I’m very curious about LeBron’s foot. He didn’t exactly move well after that injury and decided to play the post a lot more in the fourth quarter.

Also of note, L.A. beat Dallas after being down 30 in December of 2002. On Sunday, L.A. beat Dallas after being down 27 points.

Maybe teams should try being up 50 points on the Lakers. Either way, another amazing comeback by these Los Angeles Lakers on the road.

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