Los Angeles Lakers (30-29, 9-17 on the road, currently out of the playoffs)
Dallas Mavericks (39-20, 20-10 at home, currently 4th seed in the West)
Thursday, March 10th
6:30 PM (LA), 8:30 PM (Dallas)
Clippers @ Lakers 110-101 (LOSS) Bryant - 41 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast
Raptors @ Mavs 113-105 (WIN) Daniels - 32 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast
Coach Frank Hamblen
- 3/4/2005 - Mavericks 103, Lakers 108
Kobe Bryant notched an astounding 40 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, carrying the Lakers to a much-needed victory over the Mavericks in Los Angeles. Despite shooting a horrific 1-18 from beyond the arc, the Lakers shot nearly 52% from the floor, compared to a below-average 39% from Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki led the charge for the Mavericks with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
- 1/5/2005 - Lakers 104, Mavericks 118
With only 8 players stepping out on the court, the Dallas Mavericks found 6 of those to hit double digits in scoring, as Nelson's squad handed Los Angeles a loss on the road. With twice as many threes attempted than the Mavs, who had 17 attempts, the Lakers' strategy to outscore Dallas failed, as Dirk and Co. ran the show...but the night belonged to Jason Terry, who shot a perfect 5-5 from downtown, 9-10 from the field, racking up 28 points, 6 boards and 5 assists in 32 minutes of play. Bryant was the high man for Los Angeles, with 32 points on an average night of 12-30 shooting.
C - Chris Mihm (10.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.6 APG in 24.9 MPG)
PF - Lamar Odom (15.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 3.6 APG in 36.6 MPG)
SF - Caron Butler (14.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.6 APG in 34.9 MPG)
SG - Kobe Bryant (28.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 6.4 APG in 42.0 MPG)
PG - Chucky Atkins (13.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 4.4 APG in 36.5 MPG)
Coach Don Nelson
C - Shawn Bradley (2.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.1 APG in 10.1 MPG)
PF - Dirk Nowitzki (26.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.1 APG in 39.7 MPG)
SF - Josh Howard (12.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.5 APG in 33.3 MPG)
SG - Michael Finley (17.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.7 APG in 38.9 MPG)
PG - Jason Terry (12.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 5.0 APG in 29.0 MPG)
Season Stats: 7.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 APG in 23.5 MPG
Predicted Stats: 8 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists
Season Stats: 10.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.4 APG in 26.2 MPG
Predicted Stats: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Predicted Stats: 32 points on 45% shooting, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
Predicted Stats: 28 points on 47% shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
This game is the first of an important six game road trip for the Lakers, who are now finding themselves on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoffs. So far, they have split the series with the Mavericks, but there are still two games to be played between the two teams, which should turn smiles into frowns for Laker fans spanning the globe. However, good things usually follow bad things...and for the Lakers, it involves a hot Denver team, who are 8-2 in their last 10. What's so special? Well, the Nuggets will have up until Saturday until they play the Spurs at home, giving the Lakers time to play "catch up" and also the possibility for the Nuggets to find out the hard way that the Spurs (and the next day, the Suns) are going to be tougher than expected.
I wouldn't call it a blessing in disguise, but the Mavericks aren't strolling through their schedule right now, either. Since their 6-game win streak in February that included the Suns, Kings (twice) and the Sonics, Dallas has lost 4 of their last 6 games. The injury bug has hit Dampier, Dirk, Finley, and even Devin Harris, but unfortunately for Los Angeles, Dirk and Finley will be in Dallas jerseys Thursday night. As far as how their injuries will affect their game, that remains to be seen.
Offensively, the Dallas Mavericks are the scoring machines of the West, finding their way in the top three in PPG (trailing Phoenix and Sacramento). If this is a disadvantage for any team, it's Los Angeles...who have one of the worst defenses in the NBA. In fact, when allowing over 100 points, the Lakers have lost 81% of the time, posting a 5-26 record. However, when holding teams to under 100, Los Angeles wins 89% of the time (25-3 record). If this isn't an indication that the Lakers' defense is no more than poor, I don't know what is.
A surprising fact for Laker fans: LA is leading the league in rebounding. The Lakers crash the boards with a hair over 44 a game, while the Mavs spot up at #4 in the league, with 43.3 rebounds a night. Unfortunately, this doesn't account for second chance points from the offensive glass, something Los Angeles can't seem to prevent this season. If Mihm's lack of toughness is exposed in Dallas, Nowitzki and Bradley could be Nelson's bottles of Windex.
Turnovers have been a tenacious problem for Hamblen this season, and it makes you wonder if Frank will ever get to the bottom of this. LA averages nearly 15 a night, while their opponents lose the ball 11 times a game. Not to put anymore stress on the squad, but when you throw 20 assists a game along with 15 turnovers, you'll find that the passing game is pretty much ineffective, and the more the ball is intercepted or stolen, the harder it is to get back on defense. This has been the Lakers' story this season, and I don't expect it to end with a happy ending so soon.
ISOs, the triangle, screen and rolls, whatever...the Lakers will need to find themselves on the court Thursday. Standing around with your arm in the air gets you nothing; it's a simple way to ruin ball distribution...and before you can distribute, you have to move. Playing off the ball will play a huge factor against the Mavs, and this means everyone from Odom to Atkins, and even Kobe himself. Proper screens will allow easier ball movement and open shots...and if the basketball gods are nice, they'll give Mihm the ability to score down low for once, because we all know that in the last game, Bradley was lost, and Mihm dropped 10 points in a limited 20 minutes (don't ask why he was pulled). Finding the open man and attacking the basket will give the Lakers a comfortable lead if they succeed in doing just that. If not, they'll find themselves trading shots with the Mavs...but the difference is, the Lakers' attempts will be contested. Translation: a loss.
The Mavericks may be running in full swing again, with their starting four back in the lineup (minus Dampier). I'm not sure how strong Nowitzki and Finley will be for Dallas, but I'm guessing they'll be near 100% (Lakers' luck). I really don't see Kobe and the Lakers picking up a win, but I could be wrong...we always seem to pull away with one when I predict a loss, so that's what I'm doing again (hey, check my sig). Dallas takes the lead in the first and runs off with it, only to see resistance from Kobe in the fourth...but Los Angeles never pulls ahead. Mavs by eight, 104-96.