NBA highlights on Jan. 10: Old hands are better than green horns
Li Xiang

Los Angeles Lakers 129-114 Dallas Mavericks

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers in the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers in the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

The Lakers claimed victory in their last game against the Mavericks of the regular season at the American Airlines Center on Friday. Neither side sent their best squad – the purple and gold missed Anthony Davis and the Mavericks had Kristaps Porzingis sit on the game.

The Lakers took preemptive attack and scored 45 points in the first half. Without Porzingis protecting the rim, the Mavericks were extremely vulnerable from within, facing the opponents' two athletic monsters, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. Moreover, Kyle Kuzma who took Davis' place in the starting-lineup was also on fire in the first quarter to get 11 points.

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks tries to break through the defense of the Los Angeles Lakers in the game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks tries to break through the defense of the Los Angeles Lakers in the game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

As Dallas' only core player in Friday's game, Luka Doncic was more than necessarily careful with his choice of shooting – having gone 1-5 in the first quarter, the 20-year-old genius only took another four attempts in the second quarter. He kept trying to guide teammates to score in the first half.

However, the Mavericks were struggling offensively the whole time in the first half, watching their field goal rate fall to 38 percent. They only made five shots from the 3-point line with a rate of 23.81 percent. The good news was, they drew 15 fouls against the Lakers and that almost became the turning point of the game.

JaVale McGee #7 and Diwight Howard #39 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

JaVale McGee #7 and Diwight Howard #39 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

The table began to turn in favor for Dallas in the third quarter for two causes. One, L.A. ceased to make those magical shots; second, their two centers McGee and Howard soon fell into foul trouble. In less than six minutes, their foul number grew to five for each, forcing coach Frank Vogel to send center-less squad to the court.

Dallas immediately seized the opportunity to launch a 10-2 run to narrow the score difference down to 10 points (91-81). What's even better news for them was that LeBron James had to take his rest – it had been proved more than once that without James, the purple and gold would fall into dire straights.

Nonetheless, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle made a decision that he would regret – he put Doncic on the bench, too. Without their leader, the Mavericks lost their most reliable offensive weapon and watched the Lakers held the line thanks to the presence of veterans like Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley, and Danny Green. As the third quarter was over, the purple and gold actually expanded their led back to 13 points (99-86).

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the game against the Dallas Mavericvks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the game against the Dallas Mavericvks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2020.

James returned at the beginning of the last quarter, buried one 3-pointer and made two free throws, leading the Lakers to launch a 7-0 run. Soon Dallas took another hit as Carlisle was ejected for the second technical foul he received. The downhearted Mavericks watched James take over the game before turning it a blowout.

The 35-year-old James met another milestone of his career. Having dropped 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, he also surpassed Michael Jordan to rank No. 4 on the all-time field goals made list. By contrast, though Doncic put down 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, he still has a lot to work on before catching up with James.

San Antonio Spurs 121-134 Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives towards the rim in the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., January 10, 2020.

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives towards the rim in the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., January 10, 2020.

The Wild West witnessed a surprise on Friday. The Grizzlies which had been expected to be rebuilding this season, made the playoff zone (top 8) after beating the Spurs at the FedExForum.

Not only did the Grizzlies win by teamwork – six of their players scored double-digit points – the team watched rookie point guard Ja Morant continued to grow as their leader. The 20-year-old claimed 22 points, seven rebounds, and a career-high of 14 assists. This is already the sixth time Morant reaches 10 in assists this season. With such a decent combination of astonishing athleticism and great orchestrating ability, Morant reminded you of young Derrick Rose.

Charlotte Hornets 92-109 Utah Jazz

Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz tries shoots the ball in the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., January 10, 2020/

Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz tries shoots the ball in the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., January 10, 2020/

When Donovan Mitchell were 2-9 to get only four points in the game, what would happen to the Utah Jazz? A painful loss in which the team did not even score 90 points? Well, at least that was not the case at the Vivint Smart Home Arena, on Friday, because the Jazz claimed their eighth straight win over the Hornets.

Six of the Jazz players put down double -digit points – three from the starting-lineup, led by Bojan Bogdanovic (16) and three from the bench unit, led by Jordan Clarkson (20). Clarkson has been like a microwave since he was traded to Utah. In the past eight games, he could score 14 points at an FG rate of 45 percent in 24 minutes per game.

Georges Niang (R) of the Utah Jazz in the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., January 10, 2020/

Georges Niang (R) of the Utah Jazz in the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., January 10, 2020/

The other surprise of the team was Georges Niang who began to receive more time after Jeff Green was waived. Having played an average of 16 minutes per game, Niang could make two 3-pointers at a rate of 55 percent. He and Clarkson became the best solution to Utah's offensive underperformance problem of the bench squad.

"Obviously, the guys who are on the bench unit throughout the whole year - we take pride in minutes and things like that. Getting out there and trying to make an impact for our starters is something big to us," said Niang after the game.

Other games on Friday (home teams in bold):

Atlanta Hawks 101-111 Washington Wizards

New Orleans Pelicans 123-111 New York Knicks

Miami Heat 113-117 Brooklyn Nets

Indiana Pacers 116-105 Chicago Bulls

Orlando Magic 94-98 Phoenix Suns

Milwaukee Bucks 127-106 Sacramento Kings

Golden State Warriors 100-109 Los Angeles Clippers