Coming off a 121-103 loss against the Portland Trail Blazers in Kobe Bryant’s final game in Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers return home to face the Dallas Mavericks. The team is currently riding a six-game losing streak and has lost their last 10 of 11 after starting the New Year with two straight wins.
Their latest defeat was similar to the ones they’ve had all season, where a slow start put Los Angeles in a deep hole and forced them to play from behind for most of the game. Besides another disappointing outcome, D’Angelo Russell played well scoring 21 points in only 23 minutes.
The Mavericks come into Tuesday’s matchup on a losing streak of their own, after falling to both the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder over the weekend. Although they’ve struggled as of late, they still hold the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings. As for the Lakers, they’re expected to have Larry Nance, Jr. back in the starting lineup after missing four games with a knee injury.
The frontcourt is anchored by Dirk Nowitzki, now playing in his 19th season in the NBA. The 13-time All-Star and 2011 Finals MVP is once again leading Dallas to what looks like another playoff run, and besides slowing down the past couple of seasons, he’s picked up his play this season currently averaging a team-high 17.7 points per game. He of course isn’t the same MVP-caliber player that he used to be, but at age 37, he’s still the most valuable piece to this resurged Mavericks team.
Zaza Pachulia controls the paint at center for Dallas, who’s had himself quite a year thus far in the 2015-16 season. He’s currently averaging a double-double a night (10.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game) and has looked like a more well-rounded player here in his first season with the Mavericks. His status for Tuesday’s game is probable, however, as Pachulia was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets with a leg injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Chandler Parsons is having his worst season since his rookie campaign, at least statistically through 46 games, but he’s picked it up as of late. In the last three games, the 27-year-old small forward has averaged 29.0 points per game. Maybe now that he’s healthy again after having knee surgery in October, Parsons can get back to his old form where he was easily becoming one of the best up-and-coming small forwards in the NBA.
In his first season with the Mavericks, Deron Williams has fit in better with the team than he ever did in his stint with the Brooklyn Nets. Although he isn’t the same All-Star point guard that would give the Lakers trouble when he was a member of the Utah Jazz, he’s done a solid job running the offense for Dallas, currently averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. Now that he’s back on a team that’s contending for a playoff spot, Williams and the Mavericks are both looking to use their veteran experience to push them far in the Western Conference.
He may have been the biggest addition for the Mavericks this past offseason, especially after the entire DeAndre Jordan debacle, but Wesley Matthews has underperformed to say the least in his first season with the team. After leaving the Trail Blazers to sign with Dallas on a four-year, $70 million deal, Matthews’ numbers have declined as he’s only averaging 12.9 points to go along with 3.2 rebounds per game through 46 games. Maybe he’s still finding his groove after coming off a season-ending ruptured Achilles last season, but if Dallas wants to compete in the West, they’ll need the two-way guard to pick up his play like we’re accustomed to seeing from him.
Keys to Victory:
Don’t Play From Behind: The Lakers have a bad habit of falling into big deficits early in the game, which is why they usually fail at completing comebacks. On this current six-game losing streak, they’ve lost every game by double-digits, so look for Kobe and company to come out of the gates aggressive as they look to end the streak at home.
Win the Rebounding Battle: One of the many problems for the Lakers this season is that they struggle mightily rebounding the ball. They currently rank in the bottom half of the NBA in team rebounding and have only won one rebounding battle since their 97-77 win against the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 3. If they want to compete throughout four quarters against a trigger-happy Mavericks team, they’ll have to crash the boards consistently as a team and limit second chance opportunities.
Los Angeles Lakers (9-37) at Dallas Mavericks (25-21)
7:30 PM PST, January 26, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet/NBATV
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Lou Williams
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Anthony Brown
PF: Larry Nance, Jr.
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: SG: D’Angelo Russell SF: Nick Young PF: Julius Randle
Mavericks Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Wesley Matthews
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Zaza Pachulia
Key Reserves: PG: J.J. Barea PG: Raymond Felton SG: Devin Harris