The Los Angeles Lakers have picked up their first win of the 2021 season.
Blowing out the margin in the final minutes, the Lakers ran away from the Mavericks to record a 138-115 win.
Here are some of the takeaways from one of the most anticipated matchups of the Christmas Day slate.
LeBron vs. Luka
After some enthralling battles last season, Lakers-Mavericks has become essential viewing.
This occasion marked another tick in the box for LeBron, who remains stubborn to the idea of handing his crown over to the next generation of superstars including Doncic.
LeBron finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists, while Luka had 27 points, four rebounds and seven dimes.
This LeBron fadeaway is too smooth 👀 pic.twitter.com/scqtEQImC9- NBA TV (@NBATV) December 26, 2020
In typical fashion, James' influence on the game appeared effortless, in contrast to Doncic who you felt needed to have a monster night for the Mavericks to keep pace. This outing lacked the drama of their memorable battle in Dallas last season, but you can expect both superstars to be leading their squads near the top of the Western Conference come playoff time.
Anthony Davis continues to look terrifying to start the season.
Racking up a cool 28 points on 16 shots, Davis finished 7-for-11 from 2-point range and 3-for-5 from three. A career 31 percent shooter from beyond the arc across his career, Davis exploded to hit 38.1 percent of his tries from range in the playoffs.
Nights like this indicate his confidence from the outside is continuing to rise and if that 38 percent mark becomes the norm...I'm just not sure what you do about him if you are an opposition defence.
Another strong performance from Montrezl Harrell
Montrezl Harrell looks like a man playing with some added motivation through two games in the 2021 season.
Moving across the hallway at Staples Center from the LA Clippers to Lakers, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year has put together two impressive performances in the purple and gold.
Known for his intensity on the offensive end, Harrell was a problem all night for the Mavericks, particularly in the second half, snuffing out any opportunity of a comeback. Reeling in four offensive rebounds out of his 10, he also added 17 points, providing the Lakers with the offensive spark they occasionally lacked off the bench during the regular season in 2020.
Montrezl Harrell out here playing with all the energy 😤- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 26, 2020
(📺: ABC & ESPN) pic.twitter.com/mlKZqnRE2u
After a disappointing postseason, question marks remain over his ability to defend against the best in a seven-game series, but as far as early returns go, Harrell is simply giving the defending champs another weapon.
Mavericks missing Kristaps Porzingis
Harrell's dominance was compounded by the Mavericks' inability to rebound the basketball.
Dallas have started the season 0-2, with their issues on the glass proving to be an early thorn in their side. In the loss to Phoenix in the season opener, the Mavericks were out-rebounded 48-39, while the game against the Lakers produced a 53-27 loss on the glass.
With the return of Kristaps Porzingis unknown and Dwight Powell only just returning from a torn Achilles, the Mavericks find themselves a little shorthanded in the big man department. The 7'3" Porzingis averaged 9.5 boards per game in his 57 appearances with Dallas last season.
Overall, the team is averaging 33 rebounds per game, down from 46.9 last campaign.
Both the Lakers and Mavericks will have one day off before returning to play at Staples Center. The Lakers will host the Minnesota Timberwolves in the evening after the Mavericks and Clippers get a big day of hoops started in LA.
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