DALLAS — Mavericks guard Luka Doncic wanted to put on the type of show that has captivated many in NBA circles on Friday night, but the man that he and a horde of others in the league have idolized, LeBron James, continued his reign as the Los Angeles Lakers continued their winning streak.
James scored 35 points and had 16 rebounds and Kyle Kuzma, starting in place of an injured Anthony Davis, scored a season-high 26 points as the Lakers cruised to a 129-114 victory over the Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
James was efficient all night, making 14-of-25 from the field as the Lakers built their lead to as many as 22 in the first half. Five of Los Angeles’ seven wins on the bounce have been by double digits, including a victory at home against the Mavericks on Dec. 29.
“It’s not about how many you can win in a row,” James said. “It’s just how you continue to get better every individual game and I thought we did that here.”
Doncic, who has admitted to looking up to James, scored 25 points and had 10 assists, but was frustrated all night by the Lakers’ swarming defense. When he did not have to deal with defenders all over him, he still found himself ill at ease at a place where he normally thrives: the free throw line. Doncic missed five first-half free throws, and the 80 percent free-throw shooter ripped the collar of his jersey after the last of those misses when running back down the court.
“I played really bad,” Doncic said. “I felt like I don’t know how to play basketball. It wasn’t me. I got to get better. A lot.”
The Lakers played tonight’s game without their other megastar in Davis, who suffered a lower body bruise on a flagrant foul committed by the Knicks forward Bobby Portis on Tuesday. Kuzma, making just his second start, scored 11 first-quarter points as the Lakers exploded for 45 in the first 12 minutes while opening an 18-point lead to begin the second.
“It’s not any extra motivation,” said Kuzma about his chance to start a game this season. “I’m just confident, especially when I know, being I’m a rhythm player, when my minutes are high, just trying to be myself.”
Dallas also played without its other superstar, as Kristaps Porzingis missed another game due to his sore right knee. Early in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks were without their head coach, Rick Carlisle, who was ejected after arguing that his team had already started play on an inbounds as the Lakers challenged an out-of-bounds call right before it.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 26 pictures in total.