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Luka Doncic Leads Mavs Past Lakers in Anthony Davis' Return from Calf Injury

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Not even Anthony Davis' return was enough to stop the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 115-110 in Thursday's showdown between Western Conference contenders at American Airlines Center. Luka Doncic led the way for the victors, who have now won two in a row and sit at 32-26 on the season.

Solid showings from Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were not enough for the Lakers in Davis' first game since Feb. 14, as the Purple and Gold fell to 35-24 overall with their second successive loss.

Notable Player Stats

  • Luka Doncic, G, DAL: 30 PTS, 9 REB, 8 AST, 3 STL
  • Kristaps Porzingis, DAL: 19 PTS, 6 REB
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, LAL: 29 PTS, 6-of-12 3PT
  • Dennis Schroder, G, LAL: 25 PTS, 13 AST
  • Andre Drummond, C, LAL: 14 PTS, 19 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK

Lakers Fall Short in AD's Return

The biggest news Thursday came before tip-off when Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters Davis "feels great" and would play 15 minutes in the first half as he works his way back to full strength.

Los Angeles largely treaded water without the big man and went 14-16, although the fact his absence overlapped with LeBron James' made things even more difficult for the supporting cast. Still, health is far more important than seeding and home-court advantage for the defending champions who won last year's title at a neutral site.

That is what made Davis' return such a welcome development, although the rust was apparent as he shot 2-of-10 from the field and struggled to create quality looks against Dallas' interior defense.

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He did flash with a couple of jump shots, but it wasn't the vintage Davis the Lakers surely hope to see come playoff time.

It would have been easy for the visitors to fold once they fell behind by double digits and knew they wouldn't have the eight-time All-Star for the rest of the game, but they battled back and took the lead in the third quarter.

Caldwell-Pope caught fire from three, while Schroder darted in and out of the defense and created looks for himself while willingly facilitating when the Mavericks collapsed on his penetration.

While Drummond posted a double-double and Montrezl Harrell provided a spark off the bench at times, the two guards ultimately did not have enough help. Kyle Kuzma was in foul trouble for much of the game, and nobody outside of Caldwell-Pope and Schroder finished with more than 14 points.

Luka Leads Balanced Mavs to Victory

The LeBron-less Lakers weren't the only team looking for more consistency entering play Thursday.

Dallas was just 2-4 in its previous six games, and one of those wins was by a single point against the Memphis Grizzlies. It's hard to blame Doncic, though, considering he has now scored 30 or more points in four of the past six contests and dished out 19 assists during one of the games in that stretch that he didn't hit the 30-point mark.

While he broke out his trademark step-back three and was in double figures again by halftime as Dallas quickly seized control, it was his facilitating that initially stood out.

He lofted a number of lobs as the Mavericks played above the rim in the early going. 

Kristaps Porzingis had multiple dunks by halftime, while Dorian Finney-Smith, Willie Cauley-Stein and Dwight Powell all rocked the rim as well. Finney-Smith's dunk over Drummond brought the home team's bench to its feet.

It seemed as if Dallas was going to cruise to victory against a short-handed Lakers squad, but things took a turn for the worse in the third quarter when Los Angeles came charging back and Porzingis limped to the locker room as he was ruled out with a left ankle sprain.

Fortunately for the Mavericks, they had Doncic and the Lakers didn't.

It wasn't just him, as JJ Redick provided a flurry in the fourth quarter, Cauley-Stein provided important plays around the rim, Finney-Smith made a key three-pointer in crunch time and six players finished in double figures in a balanced attack.

What's Next?

These two teams face each other again Saturday at American Airlines Center.