At one point in the fourth quarter, head coach Darvin Ham went with a five-guard lineup, and after the game, he said he went to such a lineup to try to speed up the pace.
Darvin on using a 5-guard lineup late: "Just trying to get more possessions in the game. … Any of those guys can get the defensive rebound and push it. … It's just trying to play faster at the end of the day."
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) December 25, 2022
Los Angeles did finish with a decent 18 fast-break points, but overall, it was a fairly slow-paced game, which was just what Dallas wanted. It came into the contest 29th in the NBA in pace, and its slowdown offensive style perfectly suits Luka Doncic, who went 9-of-16 and finished with 32 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Center Thomas Bryant, who has been playing well all season, didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter, as Ham elected to go with an exceedingly small lineup.
That lineup ultimately backfired, as the Lakers were unable to consistently get defensive stops and defensive rebounds in order to generate enough transition baskets to give themselves a chance to win.
There is an old axiom in basketball that teams cannot run if they don’t have the ball, meaning they have to defend very well and prevent their opponents from getting offensive rebounds in order to ignite their fast break. The Lakers have struggled mightily on the defensive end ever since Anthony Davis suffered a stress injury in his foot over a week ago.
They have given up 130, 134, 134 and 124 points during this four-game losing streak, and in the third quarter on Sunday, they gave up a mind-boggling 51 points, as the Mavs turned an 11-point halftime deficit into a huge lead for themselves.
This was the first game of a five-game road trip for Los Angeles. LeBron James and crew will play the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.
With a 13-20 record, the Lakers are starving for wins, and if they don’t start stringing together victories, their playoff hopes could vanish in the next few weeks.