The Los Angeles Lakers travel to face the Dallas Mavericks as they try to close their five-game road trip with a win. The team comes in losing three straight after starting this road trip with their first win of the season against the Brooklyn Nets last Friday.
The latest loss came in heartbreaking fashion as Los Angeles fell to the Orlando Magic on a 20-foot buzzer-beating turnaround by Nikola Vucevic to lose 101-99. However, besides the loss, the Lakers young core competed throughout the entire game without 20-year veteran Kobe Bryant, who missed his second straight game due to a sore back and is questionable for Friday’s game.
Another key note was that D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers playmaking point guard and No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, finally saw some action in the fourth quarter after being benched in the fourth against the Miami Heat the night prior. Russell responded well as he finished the game with 14 points, six rebounds, one block, one steal and a team-high 31 minutes played.
The Mavericks frontcourt is led by 18-year veteran Dirk Nowitzki. The 13-time All-Star is hoping to lead to lead Dallas to another playoff run with this new revamped Mavericks team. After slowing down the past few seasons due to Father Time approaching, Nowitzki is off to a solid start in the 2015-16 season averaging 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on 55.3 percent shooting. He’s coming his best performance in a 118-108 win against the Los Angeles Clippers where he scored 31 points and 11 rebounds, knocking down 5-of-6 threes.
Alongside Nowitzki is Florida native Chandler Parsons. The 27-year-old small is one of the best shooting forwards in the league entering his second season with the Mavericks. Following knee surgery that he got in October, Dallas is monitoring his minutes early in the season so his status is probable. Parsons sat out for a third time already in Wednesday’s win after playing 17 minutes the night prior against the New Orlean Pelicans. If he doesn’t play against the Lakers, he’ll presumably return Saturday night against the Houston Rockets — his former team. If Parsons doesn’t play, expect Jeremy Evans to get the nod at small forward.
Zaza Pachulia became the Mavericks starting center as soon as DeAndre Jordan elected to turn against Dallas and his word, ultimately re-signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s done a solid job thus far averaging close to a a double-double this season (9.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game). In the matchup against Jordan on Wednesday, Pachulia finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season, showing a lot of emotion late in the fourth quarter in a game that was more competitive than the final scoreboard showed.
Trying to resurrect his career in his first year with the team is three-time All-Star, Deron Williams. Once viewed as one of the best point guards in the league in his stint with the Utah Jazz, Williams and the Lakers know each other back when both teams were competing for NBA championships every Spring. Although now with a much-less different role in Dallas, the former No. 3 pick of the 2005 draft is hoping to use some of that veteran and playoff experience to make the Mavericks in the Western Conference.
The biggest addition in the offseason didn’t turn out to be DeAndre Jordan after all. Instead, it was Wesley Matthews who ultimately kept his word in signing with Dallas on a four-year, $70 million max deal. Matthews is coming off a season-ending ruptured Achilles that cost him to miss the last 22 games of the season with the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s a solid two-way player that can light it up on any night. In his last outing against the Clippers, Matthews posted a season-high 25 points, along with six rebounds and three assists.
Keys to Victory:
Start off Strong: One thing that has helped the Lakers fall to a 1-7 record is starting games off slow. If they want to end their five-game road trip with a win in Dallas, they’re going to have to pick up the pace since tip-off. Remember this is the same Dallas team that blitzed to a 15-0 lead against the Lakers just 12 days ago in Los Angeles. Starting off strong, especially since the Mavericks are coming off an emotional win against the Clippers, will help the Lakers end this trip on a high note.
Rebounding Battle: Winning the battle on the boards will always help any team win games. Coming off a game where the Lakers gave up 23 offensive rebounds in a 101-99 buzzer-beating loss to the Orlando Magic, it’s about time Los Angeles starts taking some pride in putting a body on someone when the ball is shot. The Lakers have now dropped to 26th in the NBA in rebounds (were previously 24th) — being out rebounded by 7.4 boards per contest. Especially on a team that plays lackadaisical defense like the Lakers, they’re going to have limit second chance opportunities if they want to get a win in the big D.
Close the Game: The 101-99 loss to Orlando in buzzer-beating fashion marked the third time this season already where the Lakers blew a lead in the fourth quarter. On a team that is rebuilding and is desperate for wins to calm tensions, the Lakers have to find a way to finish games in the fourth quarter if they want to have a shot of at least trying to turn the season around.
Los Angeles Lakers (1-7) at Dallas Mavericks (4-4)
5:30 PM PST, November 13, 2015
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Julius Randle
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: SG: Lou Williams SF: Nick Young PF: Larry Nance Jr.
Mavericks Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Deron Williams
SG: Wesley Matthews
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Zaza Pachulia
Key Reserves: PG: Raymond Felton SG: Deron Harris SF: Jeremy Evans