Los Angeles Lakers (6-7, 99.6 ppg, 97.2 ppg allowed)
Dwight Howard (18.2 ppg, 59.9% fg, 2.1 apg, 10.9 rpg)
Pau Gasol (13.4 ppg, 42.8% fg, 3.4 apg, 9.1 rpg)
Metta World Peace (13.6 ppg, 41.6% fg, 1.9 apg, 5.1 rpg)
Kobe Bryant (27.5 ppg, 50.8% fg, 5.1 apg, 5.2 rpg)
Darius Morris (6.8 ppg, 42.9% fg, 2.6 apg, 1.6 rpg)
Dallas Mavericks (7-5, 101.8 ppg, 100.6 ppg allowed)
Chris Kaman (14.5 ppg, 56.8% fg, 1.2 apg, 7.6 rpg)
Elton Brand (6 ppg, 36.6 fg%, 1.6 apg, 6.0 rpg)
Shawn Marion (7.3 ppg, 46.3% fg, 3.3 apg, 7.6 rpg)
O.J. Mayo (22.2 ppg, 50.3% fg, 2.9 apg, 3.2 rpg)
Darren Collison (13.8 ppg, 46% fg, 6.5 apg, 2.2 rpg)
5:30 pm PST
What an exhausting journey this has been. It's hard to believe that the season has been running for less than a month, opening with a game against the Dallas Mavericks on October 30th. It was supposed to be an easy start for a Lakers lineup with a starting unit that should only exist in video game fantasy land. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash had arrived in Los Angeles to help deliver the final chapter of the Kobe Bryant era, while also bringing in a new era of Lakers basketball built around their new prized center. The Mavericks walked into Staples Center without Dirk Nowtizki but with a group of players who had never played in the regular season together. Oh, and Eddy Curry. And they won. They beat the Lakers 99-91.
The game itself serves as a microcosm for the kind of season it's been for the Lakers. Disappointing losses, dissonance, and being left to wonder what in the world is going on. Moving on to their fourth game in five nights, the Lakers will need to come prepared for a Mavericks team, and crowd, that will be ready to run them out of American Airlines Center as soon as the game tips off.
After two dispiriting losses on the road, one at the hands of the lowly Sacramento Kings, and the other to the NBA leading Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers will return to face the team that they led this season off against. With no Steve Nash, or Steve Blake, they will again play with their 3rd (perhaps 2nd, depending on who you ask) and 4th string point guards. The Dallas Mavericks have been riding the hot hand of O.J. Mayo, who is averaging 22.2 points per game, which is all fine and dandy. But his outside shooting clip is at an absolutely absurd percentage, resting at 56.8% (42-74) on the year. Kobe Bryant, we're all looking at you. Do not hang out around the elbow playing free safety while Mayo sets up around the arc. Be Mamba on your man, not Mamba out hawking.
Starting the season 0-4 on the road is just one of many "stats" that tell the story of the year it has been for the Lakers. Nothing has come easy (aside from the win against Detroit, that is). With Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard doing their best Houdini impersonations over the last two games all eyes will be on them stepping up to the plate. Pau Gasol has, as usual, become a hot topic of debate with his disparaging play. If he isn't hitting the mid-range jumpers he's being fed, and he isn't getting post touches, and he isn't defending his man from the perimeter while Dwight Howard covers the paint, his effectiveness seems marginal at best. Still, is still an amazing NBA talent, but his down games, and stretches, are worrisome. He had 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists against Dallas when they met in October, but it's easy to forget the great games he has when they're caked in the mud of the awful ones.
The Lakers road trip ends tonight in Dallas, returning the "Muppet Time" Lakers to Los Angeles where they face the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night, and the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Some time back in L.A. will be welcome for a team that clearly needs to regroup and refocus.
A Perfect Circle - Vanishing
Into the air
No, no longer here
Into the air
Never really here
What that never
Like a thought brushing up against a sigh
Vanishing like a cyan Sunday
Vanish, vanish into the air
Never really here
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