There’s plenty on the line Saturday night when the Dallas
Mavericks host the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Mavericks can build a bigger lead over the Lakers in the
race for the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed and clinch the
tiebreaker between the teams.
Dallas (47-18) is 1 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles (46-20) for
the second-best record in the West behind San Antonio. The
Mavericks won 109-100 in the first meeting at home Jan. 19, and the
teams’ final matchup after Saturday is at Staples Center on March
“It’s the defending champs coming in your building, so it’s a
big deal,” coach Rick Carlisle told the Mavericks’ official
website. “To try and downplay it wouldn’t be being honest. It’s an
The Lakers are finishing a difficult four-game trip after their
eight-game win streak since the All-Star break ended with
Thursday’s 94-88 loss at Miami. Los Angeles had beaten the Spurs
and Atlanta in the first two games before getting outrebounded
46-37 by the Heat.
“They had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half; we don’t do
that,” guard Kobe Bryant said. “That is uncharacteristic of us. I
turned the ball over late in the game when it was tied; just stupid
stuff like that. Those are easily correctable.”
The Mavericks are expecting the Lakers to be angry after their
win streak was snapped.
“This week has been full of tough challenges, and it doesn’t get
any easier now,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “The Lakers just came
off a loss in Miami, so you know they’re gonna be ready to play.
Yeah, it should be another fun test.”
Carlisle challenged his team by calling the Mavs “soft” after
recent one-point losses to Memphis and New Orleans. Dallas
responded with a dominant effort Thursday with a 47-37 edge on the
glass in a 127-109 win over New York.
“A win is a great response, to anything,” forward Shawn Marion
said. “What more can you ask? No reason to dwell on it. … We all
get caught up in the heat of the moment at times. That’s what he
felt at the time. You’ve just got to learn from it and do it.”
Nowitzki had 23 points, Marion 22 and Jason Terry 21 as Dallas
posted season highs for points in a game, quarter (41 in the
second) and half (72 in the first).
“We had some tough losses here in the last week,” Nowitzki said.
“You can’t win them all so you have to come back the next day and
compete and that’s what we did today.”
The Lakers have struggled to shoot 42.4 percent in five games
this month. They shot 40.0 percent Thursday, and 29 percent in the
“We just didn’t capitalize on opportunities,” center Andrew
Bynum said. “We turned the ball over twice at critical times.”
Dallas has won two straight over Los Angeles after losing eight
of the previous nine meetings. The Mavs made 12 of 26 3-pointers
and had three players score at least 21 points in the first meeting
on a night when Nowitzki was limited to 14.
Bryant had 21 points and 10 assists and Lamar Odom added 20
points and 10 boards for the Lakers. The Mavs’ 55.0 percent
shooting is the second-highest allowed by Los Angeles this