Coming into Saturday’s matinee matchup between the Mavericks and Lakers, the headline was unfamiliar.
The draw we have come to know and love with these squads has all but faded. Dirk is 39 and in his 20th season, and Kobe is retired.
So when these franchises link up these days, the rookie point guards are the talk now.
And for good reason. Obviously they have had the typical rookie struggles, but have also shown flashes of brilliance. As evidenced by the fact that they are two of the three youngest players to ever record a Triple Double, both doing so in the first half of their debut season.
On this day, Smith Jr. was the young buck who shined brightest. He finished with 23, and electrified in the first half with a dazzling display of athleticism and scoring en route to a 17 point 24 minutes of action.
While Dennis won the matchup, Lonzo and his boys won the war.
A game that could have easily gone either way, was decided on the backboard, fittingly enough.
With the Lakers up three and a little over 20 seconds left, Ball attacked a bigger defender who was switched onto him. He would miss, but as a result of the switch, Smith Jr. Was left try and box out Julius Randle on his own, and was predictably unable to do so. Randle easily shed the smaller Smith, and got the easy put back lay up, putting the nail in the Mavericks coffin.
The Lakers would win by a final of 107-101.
Smith led Dallas with 23 points. Barnes chipped in with 17 of his own.
For the Lakers they were paced by Julius Randle and Jordan’s Clarkson. Clarkson scored 19, while Randle scored 23 to go with 15 rebounds. Los Angeles dominated the backboards, 59-34.
A clutch scoring flurry between Barnes, Clarkson, and Randle made for some entertaining basketball at least.
After his crunch time scoring spree against Charlotte, Barnes had eight points coming down the stretch of this fourth quarter.
He featured his usual array of tough step backs, pulls ups, and drives to the rim. He capped off his clutch scoring outburst with an impressive, game tying bucket on a hanging bank shot over Randle with 5.9 seconds to go.
For every Barnes bucket though, it seemed there was an answer from Clarkson as he himself had a big final few minutes.
He finished with only 19, but it felt like more. All of his points came during big moments, whether that be run stoppers, answering Barnes or during overtime where he and Randle scored nine of the twelve Laker points.
This win gave the Lakers their first over Dallas in their last 15 tries.
Los Angeles will look to continue their current four game win streak when they face Memphis on Monday night.
As for Dallas, they hit the road in Denver. It will be the beginning of a seven game stretch where they will face a team currently in the playoff picture.
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