Mavericks blow big lead, rally to hold off Lakers 109-104 | NBA

By GREG BEACHAM – AP Sportswriter

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Luka Doncic scored seven of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Jalen Brunson added 22 points and the Dallas Mavericks rallied for a 109-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Dorian Finney-Smith had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Mavericks, who held on to their eighth win in ten games after losing a huge lead to the struggling Lakers early on.

Dallas was 100-94 with seven minutes to go before scoring 11 straight points in a rally started by Brunson’s fourth 3-pointer.

“At half-time we said to them, ‘You’re coming. LeBron is coming,” said Dallas coach Jason Kidd. “In the third quarter, LeBron put on a show, but we didn’t lose our composure. That’s one of the things we’ve gotten better at, and in the fourth quarter we went back to what we did at Golden State. We kept them at 17 points and that’s pretty good.”

Doncic went 9 of 21 and looked significantly less sharp than most previous games during his month-long shot on target, but made enough big baskets to win it.

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“We stayed together and just executed the game plan, played the game,” said Doncic. “My mentality is to end the game with the best possible shot.

LeBron James had 26 points and Carmelo Anthony had 20 for the Lakers, who suffered their sixth loss in seven games despite erasing a 21-point deficit in just over 12 exciting minutes at halftime. Los Angeles only managed four points in the last seven-plus minutes.

“I don’t know if you can do a better job with Luka than we can tonight,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “Our boys really fought. Our helpers really struggled, but he had that stretch in crunch time where he scored a couple buckets in a row. Not good enough. … It hurts. All these guys in there are suffering. We invest the work.”

Though Los Angeles performed much better against Dallas than it has in recent games, Los Angeles has lost 15 of 21 to slip its worst seven games of the season below .500, even increasing its position in the post-season play-in tournament looks poor. Los Angeles has been 0-3 since the All-Star break.

“We still have games to play,” James said. “Until you stomp me, cut off my head, bury me 12 feet underground, I have a chance. So that’s my trust. We have to come here and win ball games and play better, but as long as we can play ball games we have a chance.”

Two nights after the Lakers were booed by their home fans in a lifeless loss to New Orleans, James and his teammates had the crowd applauding their effort and comeback — but the result was the same.

Dallas ended a five-game road trip with four wins, but only after weathering a largely poor second half.

The Mavs rose to their big lead in a first half highlighted by Doncics riotous one-handed putback dunk about Dwight Howard late in the first quarter.

“I hit my head (on the edge),” Doncic said, laughing. “We don’t talk about that. Let me enjoy the moment.”

The first half looked like another wreck for the Lakers, who suffered three technical fouls for bickering amid their missed shots and decayed defense. Vogel, Kent Bazemore and Russell Westbrook, who missed eight of his first nine shots, were all called.

But Los Angeles managed a 22-7 run from halftime and equalized with Dallas shooting cold on James’ 3-pointer.

Mavericks: Dallas avenged a home loss to the Lakers in December while Doncic was sidelined with an ankle injury. … Spencer Dinwiddie had 14 points and nine assists.

Lakers: They also gave up two-way forward Sekou Doumbouya to create a second roster spot. … Avery Bradley missed his fourth straight game with a right knee injury.

After essentially knocking an ugly hand at the close of trading, the Lakers relinquished disappointing center DeAndre Jordan on Tuesday and signed veteran point guard DJ Augustin and journeyman forward Wenyen Gabriel. The new arrivals weren’t in town yet, but should be available later this week.

Westbrook went 5 for 17 and missed all four of his 3-point attempts in the final frustrating game for the 2017 NBA MVP — even though his 38 minutes were turnover-free.

“I need to get better overall,” Westbrook said. “What I’m doing right now isn’t good enough.”

Mavericks: Host Warriors on Thursday.

Lakers: On Thursday at Clippers.

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