With only nine games, the Dallas Mavericks (36-37) are looking at their last real chance to make up ground to try to extend their 12-year postseason streak with this four-game road trip, starting against the Los Angeles Lakers (38-36).
The Lakers will be without Steve Nash due to a right hamstring strain and a hip injury. Metta World Peace will miss the rest of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery. O.J. Mayo is dealing with a left shoulder injury, but plans on continuing to be the Mavs’ iron man and not miss the game against the Lakers.
Tuesday’s game will have an added flair as it’s a nationally televised game. It also will feature Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey retirement ceremony at Staples Center. With all of that and being the road team, Dallas will have to do everything in their power to play the role of spoiler for Los Angeles. It’s the biggest game of the year…until the next biggest game of the year. Time is running out for Dallas. They need to let it all hang out and see where the chips fall in this showdown against the Lakers.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Lakers.
The Lakers have won 8-of-9 and 16 of the last 20 regular-season matchups with the Mavericks. The road team has won the first three meetings between the two teams this year. After winning the season-opener at Los Angeles on Oct. 30, the Mavericks dropped their next two meetings with the Lakers in Dallas (Los Angeles leads the 2012-13 season series, 2-1). The Mavericks have now lost five straight at home against the Lakers. The Mavericks snapped a four-game road losing streak against the Lakers with the win at Los Angeles on Oct. 30. The Lakers have still won 41 of the last 47 showdowns in Los Angeles.
Dirk Nowitzki missed the Mavericks’ first two games against the Lakers this season recovering from right knee surgery. Nowitzki had one of his best games of the season as he scored 30 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in 39 minutes against Los Angeles on Feb. 24. Shawn Marion is averaging 9.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 28.7 minutes in three starts against Los Angeles this season. Elton Brand is averaging 7.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 27.3 minutes in three games (two starts) against the Lakers this year.
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. Mavericks forward 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 in 2003-04 and averaged 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 82 games (two 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.
Carter also played part of the 2010-11 season with Lakers guard Chris Duhon in Orlando. Lakers forward Earl Clark was part of a six-player deal that sent Carter from Orlando to
Phoenix (Clark was traded from the Magic to the Suns).
Dwight Howard (Atlanta), Jae Crowder (Villa Rica) and Bernard James (Savannah) all grew up in Georgia.
Brand played two-and-a-half seasons with Lakers guard Jodie Meeks in Philadelphia from 2010-12.
Mavericks player development coach and radio analyst Brad Davis was drafted by the Lakers in 1977 and played one season for Los Angeles.
Mavericks point guard Darren Collison grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. and played four seasons at UCLA from 2005-09.
1. Be ready for a facilitating Mamba. Kobe Bryant has averaged 7.6 assists over his last five games, including a season-high-tying 14 assist performance against the Sacramento Kings in the Lakers’ most recent game. If Nash is going to miss the game, which is expected, Kobe will handle the ball more and likely find ways to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. The Mavericks will have to decide if they want to let Kobe go off and shut everyone else down or trust their defensive rotations as they force the ball out of Kobe’s hands.
2. Be ready for an aggressive Mamba. Mayo was the primary defender on Kobe and the results did work out so well in the last matchup against the Lakers. Bryant had 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 103-99 victory on Feb. 24. It’s possible that the nagging foot and ankle injuries that Kobe is dealing with could derail him, but it’s foolish to think Kobe will not be ready for the moment with a game this important. Shawn Marion will be needed in a big way for this matchup. Mayo has the footwork to stay with Kobe, but Marion’s length and tenacity works better against him. Mayo will just need to stay honest and defend the 3-point line against the likes of Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake.
3. Have all hands on deck. With the versatility of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, the Mavericks will likely need their true four-headed monster at the center position: Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Brandan Wright and Bernard James. Fouls might pile up as the Mavericks try to derail Howard, and Gasol’s low post moves might require a physical presence like Brand. The matchups will be incredibly interesting on Dallas’ end. With a game of this much importance, Rick Carlisle will likely have a quick hook on players if they’re not matching up well against the opposition.
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.