On Saturday night, there was no "D" in Dallas, as the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks played to a 130-123 Texas shootout with neither team able to adequately display any form of consistent defense.
The Mavericks eventually holstered their guns after shooting 54 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the three-point line and claiming the victory in a seesaw game that witnessed the Mavericks target new addition Isaiah Thomas on the defensive end.
Thomas came off the bench and hit his first shot and finished the game with 22 points, six assists but also six turnovers in his Lakers' debut. Considering Thomas has not yet practiced with his new teammates, the sloppy play should hardly come as a surprise.
"Individually, I think I played okay," Thomas said after the game on Spectrum SportsNet. "I wish we would have came out [sic] with the win. That would have been even better, but we'll learn from this."
Thomas added, "This is a young team. We made a few key mistakes defensively down the stretch that probably cost us the game."
At times, Thomas looked like the same MVP-caliber player that led Boston to the best record in the Eastern Conference a season ago. Lakers coach Luke Walton may not have started Thomas in his first game following a trade deadline deal with Cleveland, but Walton called on the 29-year-old point guard to play the end of both halves.
"I like the pace of this team," Thomas said. "I like the energy the guys bring."
Thomas added, "Felt like I got my powers back playing on this team now."
Though the lack of defense is an obvious culprit, the Lakers lost for a far simpler reason that not playing defense. After all, the Mavericks didn't play any credible defense for the majority of the night, which led to the Lakers shooting 55 percent from the field and 47 percent from three-point territory. Both those shooting figures even bested the Mavs' unusually high shooting stats.
Simply, the Lakers lost this game by getting sloppy at inopportune moments. Thomas' six turnovers highlighted a 17-turnover game for the Lakers, while the Mavs only committed nine turnovers over 48 minutes. Even the Lakers' seven missed foul shots could not be blamed when counting the Mavericks' five missed free throws. Turnovers, ultimately, doomed the Lakers and a homecoming for Julius Randle.
With his mother watching live, Randle tabbed 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists before fouling out and stewing over the defeat in the closing moments of the game. Randle committed five of the team's 17 turnovers and appeared particularly agitated with the referees on this night.
From a Dallas native to Dallas' adopted son, Dirk Nowitzki displayed his famous shooting touch all night long. The Lakers let the giant German get going, and Nowitzki never stopped hitting the bottom of the net. Nowitzki scored 22 points in 24 minutes on 8-11 shooting on the night. The 39-year-old legend led the Mavericks in scoring for the game, as the Lakers struggled to force the greatest shooting big man of all time off his spots.
J.J. Barea added 10 points and nine assists, as the Puerto Rican orchestrated a night when all five Mavs' starters scored in double figures, with Dwight Powell adding 19 points off the bench.
The Lakers also finished with six different players scoring in double figures, as points seemed to be available at a discount for both teams on Saturday night.
However, the lack of defense combined with the sloppy play ended the visitors' four-game winning streak and pushed the Lakers' record to 23-32 on the season, with a 9-18 record on the road.
Notes: Rookie Josh Hart, who has been one of the Lakers' best defenders, seemed to be the odd man out to make space for Thomas late in the game. Hart only played 17 seconds of the fourth quarter and only entered at the end of the game after Randle fouled out. Trading Hart for Thomas didn't seem to help the Lakers' defensive ability down the stretch. Brandon Ingram made four of his five three-point shots on the night, meaning the 20-year-old is on a stretch of nine makes in 11 attempts over his past three games.