July 18, 2024

It wasn’t easy, and it once again needed overtime, but the Lakers finally have a three-game win streak thanks to clutch shots in the fourth quarter and in the extra period from Wayne Ellington, Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves, the last of which knocking down a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to give the Lakers a 107-104 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Both teams traded blows in overtime, but the Lakers eventually clawed to a three-point lead thanks to a steal from Reaves and some nice finds by Westbrook to get Lebron James and Anthony Davis easy buckets at the rim. But Tim Hardaway Jr. nailed a deep three-pointer to tie things up with less than a minute remaining. The Lakers answered with a three from Westbrook—in the same spot from which Ellington hit his to tie the game in regulation—with under 30 seconds left, but this time Kleiber provided the heroics for Dallas with a banked-in shot of his own.

James drove with time running out and kicked the ball out to Ellington, who swung it to Westbrook in the corner. Westbrook drove in, collapsed the defense, and found Reaves open on the right elbow. The rookie looked like a seasoned veteran, nailing the wide-open shot with under a second left to give the Lakers the win.

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The last few minutes of the fourth quarter felt like a microcosm of so many frustrating inconsistencies of this team as a key opposing player — Kristaps Porzingis in this case — was left wide open, Maxi Kleiber got a rebound over four Lakers and role players failed to hit open shots created for them by LeBron James. But one of the wildest sequences in recent Lakers memory, featuring a player only in the closing lineup because two other guards are in health and safety protocols, gave L.A. another chance and sent the game to overtime.

With 20 seconds left, James kicked the ball out to a wide-open Ellington at the top of the key, only for Ellington to miss badly off the side of the rim. On the ensuing possession, James’ own three-point attempt clanked off the side of the rim, but Anthony Davis got the rebound and flung the ball to Ellington in the corner, and this time, the guy who the Lakers brought in specifically to make three-pointers didn’t miss.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook all finished with at least 20 points. James once again led the Lakers in scoring with 24, but was also a -6 on the night, lowest among the starters. That mainly reflects Frank Vogel’s decision to give James several minutes at center despite Dallas’s big-man combination of Porzingis, Kleiber and Dwight Powell. Davis recovered from a slow start to finish with a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double. Westbrook finished an assist shy of a triple double, notching 23 points, 10 boards and nine assists.

Both teams entered the night shorthanded thanks to recent injuries and the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the NBA. Dallas was without Luka Doncic due to ankle soreness while the Lakers have lost Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard and Malik Monk to health and safety protocols since their win Sunday over the Orlando Magic. But the Lakers did get some welcome injury-related news as Anthony Davis played his first game since missing the past two contests due to knee soreness.

Davis struggled in his first half back, scoring just 4 points on 1-5 shooting from the field with 5 turnovers. But he warmed up in the third quarter, getting more involved in the offense and scoring 10 points as the Lakers got back into the game with a 16-3 run, continuing their 180-degree reversal in how they’ve performed in third periods lately. But Dallas didn’t go away quietly, roaring back with an 11-0 run that extended into the fourth quarter and put them up by as many as seven.

The Lakers will now head up to Minnesota for the first time this season for a game against the Timberwolves on Friday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. pacific time.

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