After a disappointing loss to the Clippers on opening night, the Los Angeles Lakers rebounded (pun intended) in a major way. The
purple and gold blue and white defeated the Dallas Mavericks 138 to 115 in an explosive offensive performance. The Lakers did not relinquish the lead after the 7:51 mark of the first quarter and kept the deficit at or above nine points for the entirety of the second half.
Player(s) of the game – Kyle Kuzma
There were better players than Kyle Kuzma in Friday’s win but the forward put in a really complete performance to help blowout the Mavs, especially during his shift in the third quarter. Kuz finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds, added a couple of assists, and made countless hustle plays to keep the ball alive and the offense flowing. The Lakers outscored the Mavs by seven points in Kuzma’s 22 minutes. It was the exact type of Good Kuzma performance the Lakers love to see. He hit his shots (three of four on 3-points), played solid defense, and didn’t try to do too much. His two-man game with Montrezl Harrell (22 points and seven rebounds of his own) is continuing to develop well.
Stat of the game – 35 to zero
Courtesy of our friend, Alex Regla, the Lakers had 35 second-chance points to the Mavericks’ zero. Overall, it was a dominant performance in the paint; the Lakers out-rebounded the Mavs 53 to 27 and made 20 of their 21 attempts at the rim. They may no longer have JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, but the Lakers aren’t moving away from their bully-ball down low and the likes of Anthony Davis, Harrell and others were able to feast inside against a Mavs team missing Kristaps Porzingis.
Quote of the night – “He catches everything. He finishes everything” – Frank Vogel on Montrezl Harrell
It’s been a strong start for Harrell in purple and gold thus far and his performance on Christmas, especially late in the game, allowed the Lakers to keep their lead and their superstar, LeBron James, on the bench. Harrell’s always been great at finishing around the basket despite his smaller size but he’s also showcased some passing chops as well as a real nice face-up and midrange shooting game. It’s probably fair to say he’s been the most impressive of the Lakers’ new acquisitions so far.
Frank Vogel on Montrezl Harrell: "He catches everything. He finishes everything."
— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) December 26, 2020
Up next for the Lakers are the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Sunday. The Wolves have a game-breaking center in Karl-Anthony Towns that could give the Lakers’ still-forming defense some trouble. Alongside him are explosive scorers like former Laker D’Angelo Russell and Malike Beasley as well as one of the better passers in the game, and a noted Lakers killer, in Ricky Rubio.