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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, April 4th (All times eastern)

Dallas Mavericks (47-28) at Los Angeles Lakers (51-24), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers conclude a five-game homestand when they host the Dallas Mavericks tonight at the Staples Center.

The Lakers are one game ahead of the second-place Phoenix Suns in the Pacific Division and are No. 3 in the Western Conference playoff standings.

Dallas is the seventh seed in the West and is one game ahead of No. 8 Denver.

Los Angeles has won two in a row and is 2-2 on the homestand. Superstar Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter and Pau Gasol had a successful return to the Lakers lineup, as LA beat Portland, 104-91, on Wednesday at the Staples Center.

Gasol, who sat out the previous nine games with a sprained left ankle, finished with 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, who have won six of their last nine games overall.

The Lakers are 26-11 as the host this season. After tonight's contest, they will embark on a three-game road trip. The Lakers will visit Sacramento, Portland and the Clippers on the upcoming swing.

Dallas has also won two in row and will play the opener of a two-game road trip. The Mavericks, who are 16-21 on the road this season, will visit Phoenix on Sunday at US Airways Center.

Reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki made a successful return to the Mavericks lineup, and Jason Terry matched a season-high with 31 points in Dallas' pivotal 111-86 victory over Golden State on Wednesday at American Airlines Center.

Nowitzki, who missed four games with a moderate high left ankle sprain and mild left knee sprain, finished with 18 points and five rebounds in the victory for Dallas, which has won four of its last five games overall.

The Lakers are 2-1 against the Mavericks this season.

Dallas has lost three of its last four at the Lakers.

04/04 10:39:32 ET

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