Lakers' post-NBA Cup slump: Lineup drama, defense issues, and trade deadline influence

December 12 was the Los Angeles Lakers' first game after winning the NBA's first in-season tournament in Las Vegas.

 Dante Exum, the former No. 5 choice who played in Spain and Serbia for two seasons, was cooking.

LeBron James purposefully gave Exum space to block Luka Doncic's driving lane for an open 3-pointer two minutes into the first quarter. 

The Mavs led by seven after a corner dagger 3 with 52.1 seconds left.

Starting for the injured Kyrie Irving, Exum has only eight 3-pointers on 28 tries all season. 

 He hit 7/9 versus Lakers."Operation successful; patient dies," L.A. coach Darvin Ham quipped after the Lakers' 127-125 loss,

Darvin Ham quipped after the Lakers' 127-125 loss, recalling a saying former Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer used while Ham was an assistant.

"Game plan worked. It works. We restricted the opposition team's key threats, but the recipient of the ball made shots. 

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