|NBA Betting Preview: Dallas at LA Lakers|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Sunday, 07 January 2007 11:30|
Public Betting Mavericks Can Make it 14 in a Row Tonight Against Lakers
The owners of the NBA's best record look to extend their run as they face another test in Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers (22-11) on Sunday night.
On Friday, Dallas (27-7) moved within one victory of matching the franchise-best win streak set during a 14-0 start in 2002-03, as Nowitzki sparked the Mavs to a 90-85 win at San Antonio. The All-Star forward scored a season-high 36 points to lead Dallas back from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter.
"Early we didn't play well. They got whatever they wanted, beat us to every loose ball and they got too many offensive rebounds," Nowitzki said. "In the second half our effort was a lot better. We had a bounce in our step. We kept making big plays."
Dallas has demonstrated tremendous improvement on defense under coach Avery Johnson, who's in his second full season. That was on display Friday night as the Mavs limited the Spurs to 23 points over the final 17 minutes.
"(We) didn't have the best of first halves," Johnson said. "They had a lot more energy. We were just out of sync."
Dallas closes out the trip Tuesday at Northwest Division-leading Utah.
The Mavs have split their last four road matchups with the Lakers after losing the previous 26, including the first 11 at Staples Center.
They'll likely be facing a fired-up Bryant after the Lakers superstar scored a season-low eight points on 2-of-9 shooting in a 123-104 victory over Denver on Friday. Bryant compensated by recording 10 assists, reaching double figures in that category for just the third time this season.
"It's about being a big brother, giving them encouragement, but also getting on top of them at times," Bryant said of his teammates.
Prior to Friday night's effort, Bryant averaged 45.0 points in his last three games.
He's been notorious for tormenting Dallas over the years. The most memorable effort came in his last home game against the Mavs on Dec. 20, 2005, when he scored 62 points through three quarters and sat out the final period of the Lakers' 112-90 victory.
Bryant's motivation apparently stemmed from being limited to 24 points in his previous contest.
"I was very angry, I felt like I wanted to come out and send a message, that we're going to dominate at home," Bryant said after the 62-point game. "We're going to hit you, we're going to bring it to you. I wanted to send that message."
That total was Bryant's career high until his 81-point performance just more than a month later against Toronto.
Bryant scored 33 points in a 110-101 loss at Dallas on Dec. 13. The Mavs shot a season-high 60.0 percent and Josh Howard had 29 points to top four players in double figures.
Los Angeles is 9-1 at home against Western Conference opponents this season.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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