The atmosphere at the American Airlines Center will be electric as the Dallas Mavericks (7-6) host the Los Angeles Lakers (6-6). The game will mark the fourth game in five nights for the Lakers and the second night of a back-to-back. They suffered a 108-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. The Lakers are currently on a two-game losing streak. They have also gone 0-4 on the road to start the season. This will be the fourth game for Mike D’Antoni to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Mavericks are looking to build some momentum. After falling to Golden State in overtime on 11/19, Dallas defeated New York on 11/21. The Mavericks have now alternated wins and losses in each of their last six games. The Mavericks have not recorded consecutive wins since they defeated Portland on 11/5 and Toronto on 11/7 (Dallas swept its three-game homestand from 11/3-11/7).
Saturday’s game also marks a milestone. Vince Carter will play in his 1,000th career regular season game. He has started 947 of those games. He will become the 104th player in NBA history to reach the milestone. Carter, who is in his 15th season, has played for five NBA teams over the course of his career (Toronto, New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix and Dallas). Before the game against the Lakers, Carter has played in 74 games (started 40) for the Mavericks over the past two seasons. Carter has come off the bench in every game in 2012-13. Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (vs. Phoenix 1/4/12) and former Maverick Jason Terry (at Golden State 3/10/12) both reached the 1,000-game mark with Dallas in 2011-12. Mavericks forward Shawn Marion has played in 971 career regular-season games (started 903) and is approaching the milestone as well.
Here are notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Lakers
The Mavericks snapped a six-game losing streak against the Lakers in the regular season with a 99-91 win at Los Angeles on opening night of the 2012-13 season (10/30/12). The Lakers have still won 14 of the last 18 regular-season meetings between the two teams. The Lakers swept the 2011-12 season series, 4-0, but only one of the four games was decided by more than five points (the 109-93 win by the Lakers at Dallas on 3/21/12). The Mavericks ended a four-game road losing streak against the Lakers with the win at L.A. on 10/30/12. The Lakers have still won 41 of the last 47 regular-season meetings at Los Angeles. The Mavericks snapped a 26-game losing streak in Los Angeles with a 110-93 victory on 12/12/03.
The Mavericks have dropped three straight and six of the last 12 against the Lakers at home. Dirk Nowitzki, who has been out recovering from arthroscopic right knee surgery, averaged team highs in points (24.0), rebounds (10.8) and minutes (36.8) in four starts against the Lakers last season. Darren Collison (17), Brandan Wright (14), O.J. Mayo (12), Shawn Marion (11), Vince Carter (11) and Rodrigue Beaubois (11) all scored in double figures for the Mavericks in the win over the Lakers on 10/30/12.
It’s a Small World:
Lakers point guard Steve Nash played for the Mavericks from 1998-2004 and was an All-Star in Dallas in 2002 and 2003. Shawn Marion played three-and-a-half seasons with Nash on the Suns from 2004-08. Marion also played for Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix from 2003-08. Lakers forward Antawn Jamison played for the Mavericks during the 2003-04 season and averaged 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 82 games (2 starts) en route to winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. Vince Carter was a college teammate of Jamison’s at the University of North Carolina from 1995-98. Jamison and Carter led the Tar Heels to back-to-back ACC Tournament titles and Final Four appearances in their sophomore and junior seasons. Both players declared for the 1998 NBA Draft following their junior seasons. Jamison was taken fourth overall by Toronto, who then traded his rights to Golden State in exchange for Carter (the fifth overall pick). Carter played a season-and-a-half with Lakers center Dwight Howard in Orlando from 2009-10. He also played part of the 2010-11 season with Lakers guard Chris Duhon in Orlando.
Duhon was a college teammate of Dahntay Jones at Duke from 2001-03. Howard (Atlanta), Jae Crowder (Villa Rica) and Bernard James (Savannah) all grew up in Georgia. Rick Carlisle coached Lakers forward Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) for over two seasons when they were both with the Pacers (2003-05). World Peace (Queensbridge) and Elton Brand (Cortland) were both born in New York and played on the same AAU team as teenagers. Brand (first overall pick) and World Peace (16th overall pick) were both drafted by Chicago in the first round of the 1999 NBA Draft and played their first two NBA seasons together as members of the Bulls. Mavericks player development coach and radio analyst Brad Davis was drafted by the Lakers in 1977 and played one season for Los Angeles. Darren Collison grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. and played four seasons at UCLA (2005-09). He finished his career at UCLA ranked 16th in school history in points scored (1,639) and tied for first in games played (142). Lakers guard Darius Johnson-Odom was drafted by Dallas with the 55th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, but was traded to the Lakers for cash considerations. Johnson-Odom was a college teammate of Mavericks forward Jae Crowder at Marquette from 2010-12. He also played the 2011-12 season with O.J. Mayo’s younger brother, Todd Mayo, at Marquette.
1. Don’t let a struggling Pau Gasol go off. Gasol is coming off a game against the Grizzlies where he scored only six points, pulled down four rebounds and played 27 minutes. He seems to be having the biggest adjustment to make with the new pieces in the mix as Dwight Howard operates primarily in the low post, a spot where Gasol usually thrives. That being said, Gasol’s best game of the season came in the opener against Dallas. He led the Lakers with 23 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and three blocks. Depending who starts for Dallas, Gasol might have an opportunity to get out of his funk.
2. Be prepared for small ball. When the Lakers run into scoring droughts, they tend to go with four guards and Dwight Howard. Players such as Jodie Meeks and Meta World Peace are threats from beyond the arc, as well as Kobe Bryant. Players such as Shawn Marion and Dahntay Jones could have their hands full with extended minutes if the Lakers decide to play with a smaller, faster lineup.
3. Avoid doubling Dwight Howard. Over the last couple of years, the Mavericks have had big men that could handle the defensive responsibility of guarding Howard with just one-on-one looks. Howard’s Orlando squads of the past were built with perimeter shooters who could take advantage of open looks when teams collapsed down on Howard. The Mavericks were able to avoid that trap. With Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Bernard James and Brandan Wright in the mix, the Mavericks will have to hope that they can stick that same methodology.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.