NBA Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks – Lakers Favored
Dallas (32-8) will try to reverse the result of that setback and win a sixth straight game when the two teams meet Thursday night in Texas.
Since opening the season with four straight losses, Dallas is 32-4. The 101-98 defeat in Los Angeles on Jan. 7 snapped a season-best 13-game winning streak. The Mavericks do also have a win over the Lakers this season – 110-101 at home on Dec. 13.
Earlier this month, the Mavericks allowed the Lakers to shoot 54.9 percent from the field, the best mark by any Dallas opponent this season. Kobe Bryant had 26 points and Sasha Vujacic scored a career-high 16 for the Lakers, who outscored the Mavericks 33-21 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Despite Dallas’ impressive first half of the season, the team knows there is room to improve.
"We may get away with stuff now, but we know we’re going to have to step it up a level in the playoffs," guard Devin Harris said. "Nothing is won in the regular season. It’s about getting better.”
Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the loss at Los Angeles. He’s been even better in his last three contests, averaging 37.0 points and 11.0 boards.
He had 30 points and 10 rebounds in a 109-96 win over Houston on Tuesday as the Mavericks won their 11th straight at home to improve to 18-3 at American Airlines Center.
"There are a lot of guys that are playing on an MVP level," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "But what (Nowitzki’s) doing night in and night out, I wouldn’t take anybody else over him."
The Lakers (26-13) will try to match their season high with a fourth straight win Thursday. They have also won seven of their last nine games.
A victory in this matchup would improve the Lakers to 9-9 away from home, compared with 18-4 this season at the Staples Center. Los Angeles avoided its second consecutive road loss by holding on for a 100-96 win over San Antonio on Thursday in the front end of its back-to-back in Texas.
Bryant scored only three points in the first quarter, but regrouped to hit the go-ahead basket with 1:24 left in the game and finished with 34 points on 12-for-19 shooting. He topped the 30-point mark for the first time since Jan. 4, when he scored 42 in a 132-128 overtime win at Sacramento.
"I had to set the tempo for the ballclub," Bryant said. "If I started griping with the officials right off the bat, it could create a domino effect for everyone else. … I had to relax, let it go down, sit on the bench, sit on my hands and wait until the second quarter."
Bryant, who averages 28.1 points per game, was the only Lakers starter to score more than eight, two days after all five starters reached double figures in a 124-118 overtime victory over Miami.
Los Angeles’ bench did help out Wednesday, with Vladimir Radmanovic scoring 13 points and Maurice Evans adding 11 as the Lakers reserves outscored the Spurs bench 37-21.
"It is a good win, you can’t take that away from us," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "But we can do better."
The Lakers have lost their last two games at American Airlines Center.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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