DALLAS — LeBron James had 35 points and 16 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma scored a season-high 24 points starting in place of injured star Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers went up big early in a 129-114 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
James was dominant from the start to help the Lakers build a 22-point lead in the first half, which ended with Luka Doncic in a ripped jersey on a frustrating night for the 20-year-old Dallas phenom against the player he grew up admiring.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was equally flummoxed, getting ejected after his second technical early in the fourth quarter when he exploded over the Lakers getting to challenge an out-of-bounds call after he thought the Mavericks had thrown the ball in.
Doncic, who had played James just about even while the Lakers took two of first three in the season series, had 25 points and 10 rebounds but ripped his jersey late in the first half after one of his 11 misses (8 of 19). The 2019 Rookie of the Year was a game-worst minus-24 in the first half.
Davis missed the first game of a road back-to-back after taking a nasty fall in a 117-87 win over the Knicks in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. An MRI exam showed no major concerns, although Davis was extremely sore.
Both leading men — James and Doncic — were without their star sidekicks for the final regular-season meeting as both fell short of a triple-double after both had one in the previous meeting in Dallas. They had seven assists apiece.
Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis has already been ruled out for the final two games of a six-game homestand because of a sore right knee. It’s not the knee the 7-foot-3 Latvian injured in his final game for the Knicks almost two years ago.
The Mavericks got within 91-81 late in the third quarter when Doncic found Tim Hardaway, who scored 22 points, for a 3-pointer. It was the closest Dallas had been since 19-9 midway through the first, when James hit a 3 to cap a stretch of scoring or assisting on seven of LA’s first nine baskets.
Dallas never did get the deficit back to single digits, and James hit a 3 to open the fourth quarter to push the lead back to 16.