Lakers Survive Halloween Scare to Defeat Mavericks

On Halloween night, the Lakers found a ton of early treats but had to weather a storm of late tricks.

The Lakers held a 13-point lead with just over three minutes remaining, yet Dallas charged back to tie the game in the final seven seconds. However, LeBron James split a pair of free throws to snag a 114-113 victory.

While his team’s play down the stretch was uninspired, James asserted that experiences like this are invaluable for his young teammates.

“I’m extremely happy we’re going through it,” James said. “You can talk about, you can preach about it, you can watch film about it. But the best teacher in life is experience.”

The Lakers appeared to be cruising to victory, as they led 111-98 with 3:12 remaining, but the Mavericks were suddenly carried on the shoulders of their third-overall draft pick.

Luka Doncic — who grew up a huge fan of LeBron — erupted to provide six points and two assists during Dallas’ ensuing 15-2 run, even tying the game himself by driving on Josh Hart and hitting a tough baseline floater with 7.2 seconds to go.

The Lakers elected not to use their final timeout, instead giving the ball to James, who drew a foul with 2.1 seconds left and went 1-of-2 at the free throw line. Hanging on by a single point, L.A. was able to relax only after watching J.J. Barea’s buzzer-beating heave smack off the backboard.

“NBA games are never over, and you have to play the game a certain way,” coach Luke Walton said. “If you mess with the game, the game will mess with you.”

The Lakers (3-5) didn’t mess around in the first quarter, storming out to a 29-12 lead as Kyle Kuzma put up 11 of his 18 points.

They were back at it in the third period, building their lead as high as 19 points while LeBron scored 14 in the quarter.

The 14-time all-star arrived to the game in a Jason Voorhees costume from “Friday the 13th,” and he was especially terrifying for the Mavericks, whom he has now beaten in 12 of his last 13 meetings.

LeBron dropped 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting, six assists and three steals, overwhelming Dallas (2-6) with his post-ups early, 3-pointers in the middle, and iso game late.

James wasn’t the only Laker whose performance matched the quality of his outfit.

JaVale McGee strolled into STAPLES Center wearing a custom-made-for-a-7-footer Grinch outfit. He walked out in the same green faux fur, after going off for 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks.

McGee was excellent operating out of pick-and-rolls, particularly with Lonzo Ball. He also protected the rim during L.A.’s defensive breakdowns and outplayed rebound-magnet DeAndre Jordan on the boards.

“Before this game, I was really focusing on rebounding, so I watched [Jordan’s] defensive rebounds from his past games,” McGee said, “because he’s averaging a double-double. That’s something I admire [and want] to do.”

In addition to his work with McGee, Lonzo had himself a fine performance, tallying 12 points and seven assists, while hitting all three of his 3-point attempts on a night when the Lakers went 10-of-17 beyond the arc (58.8 percent).

Now one of the challenges will be putting together 48 minutes of the kind of ball they played in the first and third quarters.

“You could tell the energy that we came out with versus how we finished,” Ball said. “It was completely different. We got a little complacent up double digits with five minutes to go. Then we got lax.”

Wesley Matthews (21 points, four 3-pointers) led Dallas, but also committed the late foul on LeBron. … Brandon Ingram scored 17 points, as every member of the Lakers’ starting five finished in double figures. … Quavo, Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann were among the sold-out crowd.