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Lakers vs the Mavericks in the NBA on Christmas Day: Anthony Davis and LeBron James lead Los Angeles to an unbalanced win

Luka Doncic may be the future of the NBA, but Christmas was proof that the league’s present still existed in Los Angeles. If anything, the heir to the throne of LeBron James as the best player in the NBA could be his teammate. Anthony Davis dominated a 28-point aggregate of 10 of 16 shots en route to a victory from the 138-115 Lakers that pushed the defending champions to 0.500 at 1-1. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are now 0-2 as they await the return of superstar Kristaps Porzingis.

The Lakers’ 138 points represent one of the best attacking displays of the LeBron James era. It would have been the second highest total last season, and it came in a match in which James and Davis scored just 61 minutes. Meanwhile, Dallas has yet to resolve the defensive issues created by Porzingis’ absence. Without a real edge guard, they weren’t identical to the Lakers who improved dramatically in the roster of last season’s championships.

Things only get easier for the Lakers here. Seven of their next eight opponents missed the 2020 qualifiers. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will have to take on another Los Angeles team, the star-studded Clippers, next Sunday. Here are the top four ready-to-eat Christmas meals.

1. D stands for “depth”

“Who is the Lakers’ third-goal scorer?” It was the dominant question in the 2019-20 season. It turned out that it didn’t matter in the end. The Lakers were so good at defending that it took little to no point in time to carry the James Davis duo over the top. Unable to address this additional scoring shortage, Rob Belinka went into business. He came out with the two best man of the year last season: Dennis Schroeder and Montrizel Harrell, and their influence has so far been visible.

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Cosma and Kentavius ​​Caldwell Pope finished third and fourth in the scorers’ list in last season’s list, and in total, they accounted for about 17.7 percent of the team’s total points. Schroeder and Harrell’s team scored nearly 28.7 percent of the Lakers ‘points so far this season, and they helped the Lakers achieve a rare feat by last season’s Christmas criteria: winning James’ minutes spent on the bench. Kuzma is, at best, the fifth goalscorer on this list. This is a terrifying idea for teams hoping to knock the Lakers off their base as the best team in the NBA.

2. Dallas is not close to full force

Dallas’ opening loss to Phoenix was not uncommon. After finishing 2–11 in one takeover matches last season, they failed to finish another match in the fourth quarter on Wednesday. The demolition of Christmas they suffered against the Lakers is another matter, and yet another symbol of the fears this team faces without krestaps poringis.

The Lakers won the counterattack with 26. Porzingis may have closed that gap. He may have made it more difficult for the Lakers to double down on Doncic’s team or take him to the field entirely, which he did to the Lakers throughout their victory. Just having Luca would keep the Mavericks afloat. They will remain in the knockout race until Porzingis returns, and the rankings will climb after that. But the idea that Dallas can thrive without its second best player is a hit tonight, and with it also Doncic hopes for the best player.

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3. LeBron embraces his era

Let’s take a quick look at the portrayal of LeBron over the past several seasons

season

3-point attempts for each game

2015-16

3.7

2016-17

4.6

2017-18

5

2018-19

5.9

2019-20

6.3

There is a general trend line here. As James got older, he relied more on three-pointers. Moreover, he has relied on him more and more Long 3 indicators. James shot 21 shots at 30 feet last season. He hadn’t toped 14 in a single season before that. There is a common sense to this. Shooting with three seconds is easier on the body than attacking the basket, especially when the triple is wide open (which are other shots). The more ground James’s possessions are, the more energy he can conserve for those moments when he needs to turn into a striker.

This approach has pushed even further this season. LeBron has scored eight three-pointers in each of the Lakers’ first two games this season. That’s impressive, but even more so when you remember that he’s only played 59 minutes this season. James spent more than 32 percent of his attempts to score goals in 3 seconds last season, the highest of his career, but this season? It is 45.7 percent. No two LeBron seasons are alike. He is constantly adjusting his game to accommodate his teammates and his aging. But that’s his most aggressive focal point yet, and the best chance we’ll ever get to see him deploy a 3-point shooting season.

4. Christmas Kuzma

Look, the four game samples are nonsensical, but if you’re looking for fun holiday stats, Kyle Kuzma basically turns into Stephen Curry for Christmas. As a rookie, he shot 6 of 11 from behind the arc on his Holiday debut, and he followed that up by hitting eight out of 19 3-point attempts in the three Christmas matches he has played since. That’s a total of 14 out of 30, or 46.6 percent, compared to 33.1 percent in his career overall. He might be calling on Carrie to sell it. Golden State’s best player twice only scored 43.4 percent of his long-range attempts.

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Is it sustainable or meaningful? Not at all. But, if you’re a Laker, you’ll likely play a lot of Christmas games, so a little holiday charm won’t hurt.

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