The four-time MVP scored or assisted on seven of the first nine LA baskets to help build a 22-point lead in the first half, while Luka Doncic missed five free throws while ending up a team-worst minus-24 in scoring margin before halftime, The Associated Press reported.
“I played really bad,” said Doncic, the 2019 Rookie of the Year. “I felt like I don’t know how to play basketball. It wasn’t me. I gotta get better. A lot.”
James was 14 of 25 from the field to help the Lakers shoot 53 percent, and his 16 rebounds were a season high in LA’s seventh consecutive win.
“It’s not about how many you can win in a row,” James said. “It’s just how you continue to get better every individual game and I thought we did that here.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was as flummoxed as his young star, 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 Dallas trailed by double digits for all but the first five-plus minutes.
“Those are emotions and feelings that are about winning and losing,” Carlisle said.
“I get it. He’s going through a lot this year. He’s going through a lot of different situations.”
Kuzma, in his second start, scored 11 points in the first quarter after totaling just 13 in the first three meetings with Dallas. He ended up nine of 22 from the field, two of eight from long range.
“It’s not any extra motivation,” said Kuzma, whose previous season high was 25. “I’m just confident, especially when I know, being I’m a rhythm player, when my minutes are high, just trying to be myself.”
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 three-pointer. It was the closest Dallas had been since 19-9 midway through the first.
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.