• The Lakers held off the Mavs 103-93 on Wednesday for their 32nd win of the year. One could also say that perhaps Dallas decided to hand the game to the Lakers, as they did not appear to put forth their most competitive lineups during the fourth quarter.

    The game started as an offensive outburst with the Mavericks leading 34-32 at the end of the first quarter. The Lakers were bolstered by a huge effort by Brook Lopez who tallied 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

    The teams stayed close, until the third quarter when Dallas built a large lead on the merit of three 3-pointers by Dirk Nowitzki and a 16-4 run.

    After falling behind 74-61, the Lakers went on a 16-0 run to get back into the game. They then followed it up with an 11-3 run to build a double-digit lead and secure victory. The latter run came against a Dallas lineup that consisted entirely of bench, or developmental projects — it appeared that they did not have any interest in competing. The Lakers were more than happy to take the victory, relishing the win and the feeling of no longer being stuck in tank mode.

    Another huge positive on the night was the return of Brandon Ingram who finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and one steal in a 23 minute stint. He had moments when he looked great and several when it appeared that he was pressing, leading to some turnovers. His ability to initiate the offense was sorely missed — the Lakers ended up needing that ability more than expected.

    The Lakers lost Lonzo Ball in the third quarter due to a knee contusion. He is expected to undergo an MRI on Thursday, but initial reports are that he did not suffer a serious injury. Before he exited, Ball totaled eight points, four rebounds and five assists but carried a minus–11 rating.

    Julius Randle continued his season-long domination of the Mavs with 20 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one steal while making 7-of-10 from the field. Randle now has nine consecutive games with at least 20 points and nine rebounds. He did most of his damage in the second half during the Lakers’ large runs to key the win.

    With Ingram back in the starting lineup, Kyle Kuzma returned to the bench but continued to play a pivotal role. He scored 10 of his 18 points in the final frame and a drew an important momentum changing charge as well. He added four rebounds, three assists and a game-high plus-23 rating.

    The Mavs’ starters played well during the game and all earned a positive rating for their effort. Harrison Barnes scored 17 points, Nowitzki added 13 points and rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. contributed 14 points and eight assists. None of the Dallas starters played more than 24 minutes.

    Key Stats and Observations

    -The Lakers continued their season-long domination down low by outscoring the Mavericks 46-30 in the paint.

    -Although Los Angeles conceded 17 points off of turnovers compared to only seven, they were still able to edge Dallas 23-13 in fast break points.

    -On the season the Lakers are the better rebounding team and that held true Wednesday with a 49-40 advantage on the glass.

    -The game started with a dearth of defense by both teams, Dallas shooting 13-of-22 (59.1 percent) and the Lakers knocking down an absurd 14-of-20 (70.0 percent) during the first quarter. Afterwards the Mavs only made 20-of-62 (32.3 percent) and the Lakers 22-of-57 (38.6 percent) for the remainder of the contest.

    -The two teams started the game scorching the nets from 3-point range with the Mavs starting 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) and Los Angeles converting 3-of-7 (42.9 percent). Dallas made only 8-of-32 (25.0 percent) and the Lakers 6-of-26 (23.1 percent) through the final three quarters.

    Up Next

    The Lakers host Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

    Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks on the season.

    The Bucks are in the eighth spot in Eastern Conference but have a significant five-game lead over the Detroit Pistons.  Milwaukee will be motivated to inch closer to clinching their playoff berth or possibly move up a spot or two in the playoff seeding.

    Los Angeles expects to get back Josh Hart for the game but will anxiously await the news regarding Ball’s MRI.

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