Lakers at Mavericks preview: A chance to gain ground

Ronald Martinez

The Lakers and Mavericks play an early game in Dallas. Two teams fighting for their playoff hopes square off, but only one shall emerge with an important victory.

Showtime

10:00 a.m. PST

Plot

The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks meet up for a nationally televised game on ABC. With the Houston Rockets dropping a game to the Washington Wizards, the Lakers have a chance to take a big step forward in catching the Rockets in the standings. Just as important, the Mavericks are only a step or two behind the Lakers, so a win Sunday would fend them off just a bit longer, similar to the win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Once again the Lakers are in a big game for their playoff hopes, though with only 26 games remaining, there's going to be plenty of those to scribe about.

Pardon me though, this is one of those times it'd be nice if the NBA was still on NBC and we could get this preview started a little something like this:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen thank you for joining us here and boy do we have a big Western Conference game in line here to kick off your Sunday morning. The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks are set to take the floor here in just a few short moments at the American Airlines Center as they battle for their playoff hopes! In the right corner, wearing the purple trunks and golden gloves will be the Lakers, led by the great Kobe Bryant. In the left corner, wearing all white trunks and blue gloves, Dirk Nowitzki the German machine, and the Dallas Mavericks.

For the Lakers, who have won both games they've played since getting back to the grind after the All-Star break, this is a great opportunity to seize the sliver of momentum they've put together. While they definitely blew the doors off of the Boston Celtics (won't let go of the good feeling of beating those greenies), they didn't quick have the zip against the Blazers Thursday evening. Still, with Steve Nash hampered after tweaking his back in the first quarter and subsequently going 2-11, they still managed to win a game they could've easily lost. Hopefully the back issue won't be a long-term asterisk, and Nash is expected to play without any restrictiong

The Mavericks are still in the playoff hunt despite having a very quiet season. They've continued to suffer from the dismantlement of their championship squad, and subsequent failure to land the free agent's to fill in the cap space they had created room for. Still, even with Dirk Nowitzki missing an early chunk of their season, the Mavs are only a game behind the Lakers and still very much in the playoff hunt. That's the thing about the teams in the 7-11 rank range in the Western Conference; this is a group of teams that could all play well enough to lock up the final two playoff spots. In the case of both the Lakers and Mavs, they're both in the unfortunate role of being on the outside, and have to play at an even higher level in the final stretch of the season.

This is a game where Dwight Howard can shine. After hanging 24 points and 12 rebounds on the C's, he added another 19 points and 16 rebounds against the Blazers, and has been movin' and groovin'. Against the Blazers he had perhaps his most efficient game from the post this season for the Lakers, hitting isolation post hooks over Portland's smaller frontline. Kobe will be coming in after a hot shooting night against Portland where he shot 15-23 for his 40 points.

Once again the Lakers are on the big stage for some early Sunday basketball. With Houston losing, this is a game where the Lakers can actually make some ground as opposed to running in place as they have often this season.

On This Soundtrack

Bob Seger - Turn the Page

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN

- Be sure to check out Mavs Moneyball, where we answered a little Q&A they had for us about the Lakers.

- Los Angeles Lakers Tickets

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The best (and worst) NBA rumors of 2013:

Mike Woodson calls out Carmelo Anthony

The unfortunate twists of Derrick Rose's return

Ziller's NBA trade deadline winners and losers

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