Mavericks’ road success will be tested by Lakers

NBA Basketball
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Much of the Dallas Mavericks’ early success has been their solid play on the road. The Mavericks have compiled one of the NBA’s best road marks heading into Sunday’s clash with the host Los Angeles Lakers.

The Mavericks’ latest triumph occurred Saturday in a 141-121 victory at the Golden State Warriors. Luka Doncic, who played his second contest since missing four games with a sprained ankle, had 31 points, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers, 15 assists and 12 rebounds for Dallas. It was his league-leading ninth triple-double.

Tim Hardaway Jr. had 25 points, Kristaps Porzingis contributed 18 and seven rebounds and Seth Curry finished with 17 off the bench for the Mavericks, who improved to 12-3 on the road.

The Mavericks have beaten some of the NBA’s top teams on the road, including the Milwaukee Bucks — ending their 18-game winning streak — the Philadelphia 76ers and the Lakers this month. Doncic did not play against the Bucks and 76ers.

“Over the years, I’ve seen different NBA teams — ourselves included — where the focus is better on the road,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s a more hostile environment, it’s your group against everyone.”

In Los Angeles on Dec. 1, Doncic almost recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds as the Mavericks used a second-half surge to pull away in a 114-100 win over the Lakers.

Doncic was injured Dec. 14 in a loss to the Miami Heat. He returned Thursday to deliver 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 102-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Dallas.

“I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty tired at the end of the game,” Doncic told reporters after the win.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers defeated the host Portland Trail Blazers 128-120 on Saturday to end a four-game losing streak. Kyle Kuzma scored 24 points, as the Lakers’ bench outscored the Blazers’ 72-39.

“They kind of got us going. Kuz has been playing out of his mind since he’s been back, and we’re looking for him,” said Lakers forward Anthony Davis, who had 20 points and nine rebounds. “Anytime our bench can come in and give us a game like that, 72 points off the bench, we’re probably going to win most of those games.”

Kuzma has averaged 21.7 points in the last three games since returning from an ankle injury.

LeBron James had 21 points, 16 assists and seven rebounds against Portland. Reserves Rajon Rondo scored 15 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 13 and Dwight Howard added 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

“It’s still good to get back in the win column,” Davis said. “We had a great film session and a great practice. Those two things combined with our energy and effort and the guys wanting to get back in the win column we kind of figured we’d get this one.”

Los Angeles captured the initial meeting 119-110 in overtime against the Mavericks on Nov. 1 in Dallas. Doncic finished with 31 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds in the loss.

–Field Level Media

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