The Lo sAngeles Lakers suffered one of their most embarrassing defeats in recent memory Friday against theSacramento Kings, and it might not get any more pleasant tonight when they host the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas has beaten Los Angeles seven consecutive times, including dropping 140 on the Lakers early last season. For a team that looked almost incompetent defensively in Sacramento, the Mavericks will present a stern challenge.
Dallas has been one of the premier offenses in the league the past few years and showed little signs of slippage in its opener against Phoenix, despite losing Tyson Chandler in the offseason. The Mavericks took a step back against the Clippers Thursday with Wes Matthews and Deron Williams out of the lineup, but both guards should be available tonight and give the team a scoring boost.
Also returning to the court is Chandler Parsons, who plans to play his first game since last year's playoffs. Parsons will be limited in his comeback from knee surgery, but at 6'9, still figures to test a Lakers team that lacks size on the wing (as long as they continue to deny the existence of Larry Nance, Jr.).
The entire Lakers lineup will have to improve upon its performance from Friday in order to compete with Dallas. After struggling with foul trouble against DeMarcus Cousins, Roy Hibbert and Julius Randle will face a different breed of scoring threat in Dirk Nowitzki, who has averaged 13.5 points and eight rebounds in only 23 minutes per game thus far. Randle might be able to expose Nowitzki's lack of speed on the other end, but expect to see Matthews spend some time on the Laker forward after guarding the similarly-sized Markieff Morris on opening night.
L.A. could use a little more fluidity on offense as well. Although it's encouraging to see possessions devolve into contested threes instead of last year's contested midrange jumpers, the Lakers should be able to run more pick-and-rolls with either D'Angelo Russell or Marcelo Huertas on the floor at all times.
Even though it's a road game for Dallas, the Mavericks will be well-rested, having been in L.A. since their game against the Clippers Thursday. The team even had a chance to celebrate the launch of Parsons' shoe line Friday in Beverly Hills. They're ready to claim a victory and head back to Dallas with a winning record for their home opener.
Enjoy the game, and let's hope the Lakers put up a better fight this time around.
Time: 6:30 p.m. PT