NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, March 21st
(All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (28-18) at Dallas Mavericks (27-20), 9:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Championship teams usually know how to play on the road but
neither of the last two NBA kingpins are accomplishing much away from their
With only nine road wins apiece, the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks
still have some work to iron out before the playoffs and the former will get
first crack at it tonight in the conclusion of a Texas tour in Big D. The
Lakers had won three in a row away from Staples Center until dropping a
107-104 decision in Houston on Tuesday to fall to 9-15 as the visitor.
The Lakers blew a 17-point lead early on and also a 12-point advantage late in
the fourth quarter, as the Rockets used a 17-2 burst to stage a 100-97 edge
before closing out the game with a much-needed win. Kobe Bryant had a chance
to tie the game at the end, but his shot didn't fall and the five-time
champion finished with 29 points on 10 of 27 shooting.
"They got a lot of rebounds. There was one stretch where they got three or
four cracks at a possession, and that changes the momentum of the game,"
Bryant said on the team's website after the game.
Bryant did not wear his protective mask for the first time since Miami Heat
guard Dwyane Wade broke his nose on a hard foul during the All-Star Game last
month. Bryant is averaging an NBA-leading 28.7 points this season.
Pau Gasol finished with 21 points and Andrew Bynum contributed 16 before being
ejected late in the third quarter with two technical fouls for Los Angeles,
which has lost two in a row since winning five straight and raced out to a
40-25 lead after the first quarter. The 40 points in the period were a season
high. LA still maintained a 1 1/2-game lead over the Clippers in the Pacific.
The third-seeded Lakers will play six of their next seven games at home
following Wednesday's tilt with Dallas. They lost for only the second time
this season (10-2) when scoring at least 100 points and for the first time in
2011-12 (7-1) when shooting at least 50 percent overall (50.6).
Dallas will shoot for its fifth straight win tonight and sixth in a row at
home. It ended a seven-game road losing streak with Monday's 112-95 win at
Denver, as reigning NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki scored 33 points on 12-of-19
shooting and added 11 rebounds and six assists. He is averaging 28.5 ppg in
his previous four contests.
Vince Carter and Rodrigue Beaubois both scored 14 points for Dallas, which
buried 53.6 percent of their shots and 10 of 25 from three-point range.
Brandan Wright had 15 points off the bench and Jason Kidd collected seven
points, four steals and 10 assists. Kidd has two straight games with at least
10 assists (5 this season).
"It was one of the smartest played games I've seen in the league all year long
by our guys," said Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle.
Carlisle's club will play two straight and four of five on the road after
hosting the Lakers at American Airlines Center. Shawn Marion missed his second
straight game with a sore left knee and is doubtful for tonight. He is posting
11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
The defending champion Mavs are 12-4 at home against the West and 18-7 as the
host this season. They are just 9-13 on foreign ground and have scored 100-
plus points in a season-best four straight games.
Dallas, which is four games behind San Antonio in the Southwest and seeded
fifth in the conference, has lost both meetings with the Lakers this season
and 12 of 15 overall in the regular season. The Mavs, of course, swept the
Lakers in four games during the second round of the playoffs a year ago.
03/21 10:49:40 ET