The Mavericks beat the Lakers 114-100 on Sunday, ending L.A.’s 10-game winning streak. There are multiple ways to read the result. The Lakers’ win streak was quite soft without a single team currently over .500. The Lakers had also survived a couple of near-misses during the streak. It was probably time, and the Mavericks are both a good team and still smarting from an overtime loss to L.A. earlier on. Sometimes win streaks fall apart.
That’s one read of the game, a single result in 82 for each team.
The other way to read it is in its reflection of the rise of Luka Doncic as the true successor to LeBron James. Luka finished with 27-9-10, just a rebound shy of yet another triple-double. Doncic was the whole meal in the decisive third quarter when Dallas broke the game open: he was responsible for 28 of the Mavericks’ 35 points in the period via points and assists.
LeBron, meanwhile, finished the game with a very similar 25-9-8 line, shooting a bit more efficiently than Luka. In reality, the game didn’t pivot on either overall -- the Mavericks shot much better from deep and grabbed more offensive rebounds with fewer turnovers. The Lakers need to close off the defensive glass and protect the ball given that their shooting remains suspect.
Luka has a way to go before he even thinks about catching LeBron. I mean, he has to play a single playoff game first, probably. But in terms of play style, in terms of impacting the game as a big forward who handles the ball and can take over by scoring or playmaking or both, the similarities are striking. Finally, we have a successor to LeBron -- not a G.O.A.T. candidate necessarily, but as a player type. Let’s just hope we get a number of years with them both battling (and hopefully in the playoffs) before LeBron bows to Father Time.
Heat 109, Nets 106
Celtics 113, Knicks 104
Grizzlies 115, Wolves 107
Mavericks 114, Lakers 110
Spurs 98, Pistons 132
Thunder 107, Pelicans 104
Warriors 96, Magic 100
Jazz 110, Raptors 130
Wizards 125, Clippers 150
All times Eastern. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.
Suns at Hornets, 7
Jazz at Sixers, 7, NBA TV
Warriors at Hawks, 7:30
Pacers at Grizzlies, 8
Knicks at Bucks, 8
Bulls at Kings, 10, NBA TV
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Emmet Ryan, who I link often in the newsletter, has a book on European basketball adventures out now. It looks at how a number of characters make a career of basketball thousands of miles from home and far from the bright lights of the NBA. Check it out! Here’s the Indiebound link. Here’s the Amazon link.
Be excellent to each other.