DALLAS — Isaiah Thomas made his much-anticipated Lakers debut with 5:09 remaining in the first quarter, entering Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks to rousing cheers that grew to a crescendo as he dribbled the ball down the court and later swished a 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:43 left.
Thomas handled the ball as if it was on a string in his first game with his new team, dazzling a large contingent of Lakers fans in American Airlines Center while setting up teammates for baskets with alert passes. He also found open spots around the court for his own shots.
By night’s end, after the Lakers’ 130-123 loss to the Mavericks, he delivered as expected and hoped, coming off the bench to score 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting with 6 assists in 31 minutes in his first game since the Lakers acquired him and Channing Frye on Thursday from Cleveland.
Frye didn’t play as the Lakers’ four-game winning streak came to an end.
Thomas offered more than just fleeting glimpses of the play that made him an NBA All-Star during his first run with the Lakers. He put on a dynamic show that included a crossover dribble that freed him from Dallas’ Kyle Collingsworth and resulted in a 3-pointer midway through the first half.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called a timeout with his team facing a 53-42 deficit after Thomas’ 3 with 6:49 left in the half. Brook Lopez, who stands 7 feet, went to give the 5-9 Thomas a congratulatory shoulder bump, but had to bend way, way down to deliver it.
By halftime, Thomas had a team-leading 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, plus four assists in 14 minutes. The Lakers scored easily and often in the opening half, but so did the Mavericks. The Lakers’ 66-65 lead at halftime was tenuous at best.
The Lakers chased the game for most of the second half. They wiped out an eight-point deficit, taking a 115-114 lead on Kyle Kuzma’s 3-pointer with 6:27 remaining in the game. They couldn’t stay in front and the Mavericks surged back into the lead.
Julius Randle led the Lakers with 26, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points for Dallas.
The Lakers haven’t won five consecutive games since last April, when they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans before ending the season with a loss to the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers’ overtime victory over the Mavericks on Jan. 13 was noteworthy because it was the game in which Lonzo Ball sprained his left knee. It also started Dallas on a downward spiral that featured losses in 10 of 12 games going into Saturday’s rematch.
Ball, nearing a return from his injury, accompanied the Lakers for their one-game trip to Dallas, but he forgot a sports jacket to wear while on the bench. He and Lakers media relations assistant T.C. Greene are roughly the same height and build so Greene volunteered his jacket.
A rental fee was promised.