January 17, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

More wine, no whine: 5 takeaways from Lakers win over Dallas

The Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night to improve their Christmas games record to 24-23.

Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 138-115 win Christmas night at Staples Center:

1) LeBron James was in a jolly mood after the game, his sprained ankle all better thanks to his highlysophisticated routine of resting it while drinking wine. James finished with 22 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, getting to watch most of the fourth quarter as his teammates put Dallas away.

The only hiccup? A free throw that missed so badly one reporter wondered if any of that vino was still in his system.

“I told you the other night, when I drink the wine goes straight down to the left side of my body. Tonight, I shot the free throw with my right hand so did not have any side effects,” James joked. “So, I’m going to see if I can drink some wine, if I can shoot it down to the right side of my body, maybe it will help my free throw and it will give me a bit more strength to where it doesn’t hit absolutely nothing. So, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I need to drink upside down tonight, maybe? Vampire style?”

My advice? A wine bottle in each hand, for, you know, balance. And, uh-oh, it sounds like he planned on taking it.

“It’s been a very good day,” he said. “And now I’m going to go home and maybe double-fist it so I can not airball a free throw in next game.”

2) Near the end of the preseason, the Lakers began to talk about Anthony Davis increasing his volume of attempts from three-point range as a way to further stretch defenses and create space.

Davis attempted five three-points on Friday — sort of the magic number — and made three on his way to 28 points. He and James were more aggressive than in the opener, triggering the big night for the offense.

“It starts with LeBron and Anthony playing at a high level. That puts a lot of pressure on their defense to commit and those guys are willing passers,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “So, you move the basketball around, with the firepower that we have, and make sure it’s an open shot, we’re going to shoot a high percentage.”

3) One of the Lakers’ beneficiaries has been newcomer Dennis Schroder, who has looked remarkably comfortable as the team’s starting point guard.

He scored 18 points and attacked the rim, working through big driving lanes against Dallas’ porous defense.

After the game, I asked him about the possibility of working on an extension with the Lakers later this season.

“For sure I want to extend. But like I said it’s gotta be fair on both sides,” he said. “And we can talk about it, but for sure. It’s a hell of an organization from what I’ve seen so far this month, teammates are amazing, front office, the people here, they’re doing everything for you and your family, just want you to be [you].

“If you want to be in that environment, you can just focus on basketball every single day. I would love to, it’s just gotta be fair on both sides, and that’s all I gotta say.”

4) Montrezl Harrell’s shoes demanded that he play well. If your sneakers have, essentially, white feathered garland wrapped around them, you better deliver.

Harrell took the attention off his feet and put it on his stat line, coming off the bench to score 22 on 10-of-13 shooting while getting seven rebounds.

“The simplest way to put it: He catches everything and he finishes everything,” Vogel said with a laugh.

5) The Lakers won’t practice on Saturday, the team taking the day off before hosting Minnesota on Sunday.

Even though the retooled team needs time to build chemistry and cohesion on the court, James said their identity is already set.

“It’s the same formula. Our formula last year was to defend at a high level, rebound. And then on the offensive end, just share the ball,” James said. “It’s the same. We have two heavy hitters in myself and AD. And we also got some, I mean, also some guys that can do some great things. … We know what our identity is. Our team knows what our identity is. And the ball is going to be in me and AD’s hands the majority of the time, but we have the ability to be able to defer to Dennis and he can run the offense. We can defer and give the ball to Trez [Harrell] in the low post and he’ll do his thing. To give the ball to [Kyle Kuzma] in his sweet spots as well.

“So, we know what we are, and we want to continue to build off of that.”