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Preview: Mavericks vs. Lakers

With only 8 games left in the regular season, the Lakers (38-36) are facing a win-or-die situation in their playoff hopes every single game. Tonight is definitely no exception.

The Dallas Mavericks (36-37) are sitting just a game-and-a-half back of the purple and gold for the 8th seed. A victory tonight will inch them within a half-game, but the consequences would be a very tough one to take for the Lakers since a loss would put the 8th spot a full game farther out of reach.

For Dallas, tonight's matchup at Staples Center is their first of 4 games of a very tough schedule that will conclude in Portland. For L.A., only their game against the Hornets at home next Tuesday is the only one that can be labeled remotely close to an easy win in their next 4-game stretch, which happens to also end at the Rose Garden against the Trailblazers — where they have lost 8 of their last 10 tries.

No doubt tonight is a HUGE game for either team.

And to add a bit of drama for the Lakers, Shaquille O'Neal's jersey will be retired at halftime.

> Commemorate Shaq's Jersey Retirement With RareInk's Special "Shaq Collection"! <

Laker fans are hoping that by seeing the ceremony, Dwight Howard will be inspired to dominate this game, and more importantly, have a better grasp of how special of an opportunity it is, especially for a center, to play for this storied franchise and re-sign this coming summer.

But all that aside, the Lakers better take the Mavericks very seriously and come out to win this game.

In the month of March, the Mavs have won 11 of their 16 games — including wins against the Rockets, Nets, Celtics, Clippers and recently, the Bulls.

The Lakers do lead the series 2-1, but they have yet to defeat Dallas at Staples Center this season. In fact, the Mavs have yet to win against the Lakers in Los Angeles more than once in a year since the 1983-84 season. Hopefully, that streak does not end tonight.

Both teams are very close in nearly every major team statistics. But if the Lakers are to win tonight, they can't let anyone not named Dirk Nowitzki have a field day on offense, as well.

In the 99-91 loss on opening night, 6 Mavs scored in double digits. Nowitzki was out in that game, but the Lakers allowed Brendan Wright have 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting and 11 points from Shawn Marion, who generally gets his points out of garbage plays and putbacks.

The Lakers have a long history this season of allowing even 2nd-tier role players perform like stars on offense. That can't happen tonight.

With 7 of their last 8 games held at Staples Center, the onus of winning tonight and the rest of the way falls on the Lakers' shoulders even more. Considering how the team basically gave the 8th spot back to Utah, this is a favorable pressure for the Lakers — but only if the Lakers make it favorable.

Tonight is the 4th and final meeting in the regular season between these teams with the Lakers looking to win the season series, 3-1.

Matchup of the Game

Dirk Nowitzki vs. Pau Gasol: This is the first time these 2 players are facing each other this season. While his point production a very welcomed proposition tonight, it's Pau's defense on Dirk that can throw this matchup heavily on the Lakers' side. Gasol may not play a lot of minutes. But if he comes out aggressive on both ends of the floor, that could be a start of a lot of positive things for the Lakers tonight.

Keys to the Game

> Contain Dirk: It's next to impossible stopping Nowitzki from scoring out of that off-balanced, turn-around jumper. But what the Lakers could do is force him to spin towards his shooting shoulder so it's not as easy leveling himself to shoot his jumper and make him into a playmaker by doubling him as soon as he gets the ball from the post, especially if he's being defended by either Earl Clark or Antawn Jamison. But don't be surprised if Dwight sees time guarding him.

> Dwight Howard: As I alluded to in the previous post, Howard is going to be a major factor in how the Lakers are going to finish the regular season in a positive way. Part of that is his maturation into taking it upon himself to continue to dominate every game in the post. If he does that again tonight, Dallas is going to be left with a ton of pressure in having their role players help win this game from the perimeter while trying to stop Dwight inside.

> Consistency: If the Lakers had been consistently focused and energetic all season long, it won't matter if they're still averaging 14.7 turnovers per game right now. Their overall game and record would be a lot better heading to tonight's game and this matchup wouldn't have come as a must-win affair. Then again, a lot of Laker fans thought that this team was going to be one of the top 3 teams competing for the title at this point in the season. Can't wish for everything, I guess.

Game Info

Tonight
vs. Dallas Mavericks
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST)
Staples Center
TV: TNT (National)
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

DALLAS: Rodrigue Beaubois (wrist) is out.

LAKERS: Jordan Hill (hip) and Metta World Peace (knee) are out. Steve Nash (hamstring) is doubtful.
 

Preview: Mavericks vs. Lakers

Dallas Mavericks vs Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles

It’s been three months since the Dallas Mavericks (23-10) came to town and defeated the Lakers (26-6) 94-80 in the second game of the season in front of a sold-out Staples Center crowd. The boys from northern Texas are back to take on the purple and gold. Will the Lakers come out with a vengeance or fall again to the second best team in the West?

Dallas owns the best road record in the West at 12-5 and is 7-3 the last 10 games. They come in scoring 100.9 points per game (11th) and allowing 96.5 points per contest (10th). They’re also the 5th best team in assists (22.9 APG) and rebounds (43.7 RPG). Plus, the second best team in blocks with a 6.3 BPG average.

The Lakers have the best overall record and the best home record in the league at 18-3. They’re the 6th highest scoring team averaging 104 PPG and have the 12th best defense in the league allowing 97.3 points per contest. However, they own the second best percentage defense allowing opponents to shoot at 44% in the field and 32% from three-point land on average. Plus, they’re tops in rebounds at 45.1 RPG and 5th in steals at 8.1 take-aways per game.

Dirk Nowitzki is having another solid season and is currently the highest scoring big-man in the league averaging 25 points and 8 rebounds a game. Super 6th-man Jason Terry is second in points and in steals for the Mavs averaging 16.6 points and 1.3 steals per game. Terry destroyed whoever was guarding him in their first bout with the Lakers scoring 16 points, including sinking 3 of 5 three-pointers. The guy is just a fearless shooter and is quite good at going under the radar to pick his spots behind the three-point land. So whoever is assigned to him must stay honest and must fight through screens as he has one of the quickest releases in the entire association.

It’s imperative that the Lakers do not come out flat against this team because the Mavs can put up points almost as well as preventing it from their opposition. They have one of the most precise and versatile offenses in the league thanks to Jason Kidd who can still run it even in his 15th year in the league. Kidd is 5th in assist averaging 9 per outing.

The Lakers are coming off of a one-point victory over Sacramento on Friday thanks to another buzz-beater from Kobe Bryant and are looking for their 3rd win in a row. The defending champs are known to play good basketball against the league’s best, but that was expected of them when they faced Cleveland on Christmas. Need I say what happened to them in that game?

Their biggest problems right now is poor defense and no bench support next to lack of focus and energy to start games. Ron Artest have yet to show signs of well-being from his neurologist who observed Artest during some light workout on Saturday. So it’s probable that Artest will miss his fifth game against Dallas. Thus, the Lakers will not have their defensive enforcer on the floor and will need to step it up as a team on defense in a big, big way.

Houston defeated the Mavs on New Year’s eve 97-94 thanks to some solid defense, especially on Nowitzki who ended up making only 3 of his 12 attempts for 11 points. So it’s not impossible to stop Dirk if you challenge his shots and take away his comfort zone. The more you make him put it on the floor and make him a playmaker, the better your chance at successfully defending him. Fortunately for the Lakers, they have both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom who are capable of challenging his shots and applying good pressure on him.

The last time these two teams met, the Mavs put on an alley-oop show from Kidd and new Mav Shawn Marion. So the Lakers cannot afford to turn their heads and not see the ball often or the same thing will happen again. Marion loves to come around the baseline or rub off of a screen to get the lob pass for an easy dunk. The Laker bigs must be aware of that also.

To win this game, the Lakers must come out swinging and put forth a harassing defense while taking away all the easy passing angles for Kidd. They will also need to box out consistently and keep Terry in check. Plus, they need to execute well offense and rotate well on defense.

This is the Lakers’ chance at redeeming themselves from such a disappointing loss to the Cavs and finally start a string of good basketball from here on out. If avenging their loss isn’t good enough of a motivation for them, what is?

Tip-off is at 6:30. TV: FoxSports West  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

Just for the fun of it. Here is a clip of Mark Cuban getting body slammed through a table on WWE Raw:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84NHpIaZhHo&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x402061&color2=0x9461ca

Preview: Mavericks vs. Lakers

Dallas Mavericks vs Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles

It’s been three months since the Dallas Mavericks (23-10) came to town and defeated the Lakers (26-6) 94-80 in the second game of the season in front of a sold-out Staples Center crowd. The boys from northern Texas are back to take on the purple and gold. Will the Lakers come out with a vengeance or fall again to the second best team in the West?

Dallas owns the best road record in the West at 12-5 and is 7-3 the last 10 games. They come in scoring 100.9 points per game (11th) and allowing 96.5 points per contest (10th). They’re also the 5th best team in assists (22.9 APG) and rebounds (43.7 RPG). Plus, the second best team in blocks with a 6.3 BPG average.

The Lakers have the best overall record and the best home record in the league at 18-3. They’re the 6th highest scoring team averaging 104 PPG and have the 12th best defense in the league allowing 97.3 points per contest. However, they own the second best percentage defense allowing opponents to shoot at 44% in the field and 32% from three-point land on average. Plus, they’re tops in rebounds at 45.1 RPG and 5th in steals at 8.1 take-aways per game.

Dirk Nowitzki is having another solid season and is currently the highest scoring big-man in the league averaging 25 points and 8 rebounds a game. Super 6th-man Jason Terry is second in points and in steals for the Mavs averaging 16.6 points and 1.3 steals per game. Terry destroyed whoever was guarding him in their first bout with the Lakers scoring 16 points, including sinking 3 of 5 three-pointers. The guy is just a fearless shooter and is quite good at going under the radar to pick his spots behind the three-point land. So whoever is assigned to him must stay honest and must fight through screens as he has one of the quickest releases in the entire association.

It’s imperative that the Lakers do not come out flat against this team because the Mavs can put up points almost as well as preventing it from their opposition. They have one of the most precise and versatile offenses in the league thanks to Jason Kidd who can still run it even in his 15th year in the league. Kidd is 5th in assist averaging 9 per outing.

The Lakers are coming off of a one-point victory over Sacramento on Friday thanks to another buzz-beater from Kobe Bryant and are looking for their 3rd win in a row. The defending champs are known to play good basketball against the league’s best, but that was expected of them when they faced Cleveland on Christmas. Need I say what happened to them in that game?

Their biggest problems right now is poor defense and no bench support next to lack of focus and energy to start games. Ron Artest have yet to show signs of well-being from his neurologist who observed Artest during some light workout on Saturday. So it’s probable that Artest will miss his fifth game against Dallas. Thus, the Lakers will not have their defensive enforcer on the floor and will need to step it up as a team on defense in a big, big way.

Houston defeated the Mavs on New Year’s eve 97-94 thanks to some solid defense, especially on Nowitzki who ended up making only 3 of his 12 attempts for 11 points. So it’s not impossible to stop Dirk if you challenge his shots and take away his comfort zone. The more you make him put it on the floor and make him a playmaker, the better your chance at successfully defending him. Fortunately for the Lakers, they have both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom who are capable of challenging his shots and applying good pressure on him.

The last time these two teams met, the Mavs put on an alley-oop show from Kidd and new Mav Shawn Marion. So the Lakers cannot afford to turn their heads and not see the ball often or the same thing will happen again. Marion loves to come around the baseline or rub off of a screen to get the lob pass for an easy dunk. The Laker bigs must be aware of that also.

To win this game, the Lakers must come out swinging and put forth a harassing defense while taking away all the easy passing angles for Kidd. They will also need to box out consistently and keep Terry in check. Plus, they need to execute well offense and rotate well on defense.

This is the Lakers’ chance at redeeming themselves from such a disappointing loss to the Cavs and finally start a string of good basketball from here on out. If avenging their loss isn’t good enough of a motivation for them, what is?

Tip-off is at 6:30. TV: FoxSports West  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

Just for the fun of it. Here is a clip of Mark Cuban getting body slammed through a table on WWE Raw:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84NHpIaZhHo&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x402061&color2=0x9461ca

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