The smallest guy on the court crossed over Dallas rookie Kyle Collinsworth, rose slightly off the court and sank a three-pointer. Then the tallest guy on the court ran to him, bent at a 45-degree angle and gave him a celebratory shoulder bump.
Isaiah Thomas began his Lakers tenure with flair.
In his first half wearing purple and gold, Thomas scored 16 points in 14 minutes Saturday night and hit four three-pointers with four assists. He bounced around the court, playing with joy and scoring better than he did in Cleveland.
He was, as fellow Cleveland export Channing Frye promised he would be, the old Isaiah Thomas.
“I got my powers back playing with this team,” Thomas said, allowing a tiny smile.
But Thomas shrugged even when describing the better parts of his game. He lamented that the Lakers lost to the Mavericks, 130-123, noting their Achilles’ heel: defense.
The Mavericks scored 100 points through three quarters, making more than 50% of their shots, and pulled away to snap the Lakers’ winning streak at four.
The Lakers brought Thomas off the bench in his first game and he scored 22 points on seven-of-12 shooting, making four of eight three-point attempts. Brandon Ingram also scored 22 points and Julius Randle had another big game in his hometown with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Kyle Kuzma contributed a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 22 points and Harrison Barnes had 21 for Dallas.
The Mavericks started the third quarter five for five and shot nearly 60% in that period. After three quarters, the Lakers trailed 100-95 and had allowed more points than their prior two opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns, scored the entire game.
The 130 points were their most allowed in a month.
“Really easy [to fix],” Randle said. “Just communication; just gotta talk to each other. There were key defensive plays down the stretch where we just didn’t talk to each other. We could’ve made stops and we just didn’t talk.”
The Lakers matched the Mavericks score for score most of the night but Dallas took a late six-point lead after a game-high sixth turnover by Thomas led to a score by Salah Mejri.
“I had one key turnover where I might have jumped in the air; I don’t know where guys are,” Thomas said. “That’s just getting familiar with each other. While we’re playing more, practicing more, that will come easier. But at the same time it’s tough just putting the new guy out there. I didn’t know any plays. We couldn’t execute like probably the previous games that this team has played.”
Thomas, who didn’t join the team until Friday night, did some cramming earlier Saturday. The Lakers tried to teach him some terminology and loaded some plays onto his tablet.
“We couldn’t run a ton of stuff because he has been with us for one day,” coach Luke Walton said. “But he was good. You can see his competitive spirit come out a little bit. He was scrapping and knocking down shots. Overall he had a good night.”