LeBron James Leads Lakers Past Luka Doncic, Mavs Without Injured Anthony Davis

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 11, 2020

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 10: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Dallas Mavericks on January 10, 2020 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
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LeBron James posted 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the host Dallas Mavericks 129-114 at the American Airlines Center on Friday.

James surpassed Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time made field goals list thanks to a third-quarter layup with 6:31 remaining.

The Lakers played without six-time All-Star big man Anthony Davis, who sat with a bruised tailbone.

Kyle Kuzma started in Davis' place and dropped 21 first-half points en route to 26 on the night.

With James and Kuzma leading the way, the Lakers scored 45 first-quarter points in a game where L.A. led for the final 46:20.

The Mavs cut the Lakers' lead to as much as 10 in the third quarter but could not get any closer.

Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 25 points, 10 boards and seven dimes.

The 31-7 Lakers won their seventh straight game. The 23-15 Mavs dropped their third game in four tries. They have played without big man Kristaps Porzingis (sore right knee) since Dec. 31.

            

Notable Performances

Lakers G/F LeBron James: 35 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists

Lakers F Kyle Kuzma: 26 points, 6 rebounds

Lakers C Dwight Howard: 10 points, 6 rebounds

Mavericks G Luka Doncic: 25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists

Mavericks G/F Tim Hardaway Jr.: 22 points, 7 rebounds

Mavericks C Boban Marjanovic: 14 points, 10 rebounds

          

Kyle Kuzma's First-Half Effort Helps Lakers Coast to Win

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has been the subject of trade rumors of late.

Sam Amick of The Athletic reported L.A. was willing to listen to trade offers on the third-year pro, and Marc Stein of the New York Times tweeted that the Sacramento Kings were one of the franchises that have inquired about Kuzma.

Whether Friday served as a showcase for why Kuzma should stay in L.A. or why he is a valuable trade asset worth an enticing package in return is up for debate until the Feb. 6 trade deadline, but the ex-Utah Ute was fantastic.

The forward took advantage of the starting opportunity provided to him with Davis out. He scored 11 of the Lakers' 45 first-quarter points and 10 more in the second to help L.A. build a 79-58 halftime lead.

Kuzma looked confident, energetic and more like the player who made waves in his rookie year rather than the one who has worked his way through rust after a stress reaction in his left ankle stunted the beginning of this season.

That injury is long past Kuzma, as noted by this putback slam to extend the Lakers' first-quarter lead:

Kuzma also made waves outside of his scoring Friday, however, as he found Dwight Howard for a powerful alley-oop:

We'll find out shortly whether Kuzma is a member of the Lakers as they continue their quest for their 17th NBA title, but the forward showed Friday he can absolutely be a valuable piece for L.A. down the stretch.

      

Mavericks Continue Struggles Without Kristaps Porzingis

Naturally, losing an All-Star-caliber player who doubles as the second scoring option would be tough for any team.

That's been the case for the Dallas Mavericks, who have gone just 2-4 since Kristaps Porzingis was sidelined with right knee soreness.

It's not as if the Mavs have been completely uncompetitive during that stretch. They nearly picked off the 26-11 Denver Nuggets before losing 107-106. They also fought hard against a scorching-hot Oklahoma City Thunder team on the road before falling 106-101.

However, the Mavs lost a game it likely would have won with Porzingis in a 123-120 defeat to the 15-26 Charlotte Hornets.

Porzingis averages 17.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game for the Mavs, and that production is hard for Dallas to replace. The Mavs have adequate big men down low with Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic, but trying to fill the stats lost with the 7'3" big man's skill set is a tall order for anyone.

That, in turn, has led to a situation where second-year superstar Luka Doncic has been forced to carry a much heavier burden. Doncic can do it all for the Mavs, but he's now the only healthy player who averages more than 14 points and six rebounds per game on the floor.

Dallas has turned in an exceptional start to its season after going just 34-48 the year before, but as Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News wrote, the team needs some reinforcements:

We'll see if any arrive before the Feb. 6 trade deadline, but the best one will be the return of Porzingis, who will also miss his seventh straight game Saturday.

           

What's Next?

Both teams play Saturday.

The Mavericks will host the Philadelphia 76ers at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Lakers will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena at 8 p.m.