Pre-Game Report: Lamar Odom Returns as Lakers Host Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks (8-5) at Los Angeles Lakers (9-5)
7:30 PM PST, January 16, 2012
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: 710 ESPN

Mavericks Projected Starting Line-up:

PG: Jason Kidd
SG: Delonte West
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Brendan Haywood

Key Reserves: PF Lamar Odom, SG Jason Terry, SG Vince Carter

Fresh off a loss to the Clippers, the Lakers host the defending champions. Kobe has scored 40 or more in the past four games, and he may have to do it again in order to beat the streaking Mavs. The Mavericks are playing well and are winners of their last five. The Mavs bring a balanced attack spearheaded by Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.

Frontcourt: The Mavs lost defensive juggernaut Tyson Chandler to the Knicks in the off-season. His replacement, Haywood, hasn’t put up big numbers but has done well. The Mavs have limited their opponents to 42.8 percent shooting and 89.7 points. Marion is a versatile forward who is active on defense and a great rebounder. Rounding out the trio is the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Dirk Nowitzki. Curiously, his numbers are down across the board, but he hasn’t had to do too much since the rest of his team has stepped up their game. But Dirk can always be counted on to hit impossible shots and bring his team back in the clutch.

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Backcourt: Defense is the name of the game for the Mavs and their guards are a band of thieves. Collectively, Kidd, West, Terry and Beaubois combine for 6.7 steals per game. Kidd is the ring leader and accounts for one third of the steal totals. His scoring is down significantly this year, however, he seems to be focusing most of his efforts on the defensive end which has paid dividends for the team. One of the league’s best sixth men, Jason Terry is a scoring machine off the bench. The Lakers guards will have their hands full with the Jet. West and Beaubois are both slashing guards who like to penetrate the paint and get to the rim. These type of guards typically cause trouble for the Lakers backcourt.

Keys to Lakers’ Victory:

Cut down on Turnovers – The Lakers average 15.4 turnovers per game and the Mavs are second best in the NBA with 10.7 steals per game. This means that the Lakers will need to be careful with each possession and watch their pockets!

Improved Bench Play – As good as Kobe, Bynum and Gasol have been playing, they won’t be able to do it alone. In the loss to the Clips, the bench combined to score only 11 points. They will need to step up and contribute more to beat Dallas. Morris has filled in for the injured Blake and aging Fisher. He has potential to be a dynamic guard and perhaps he should be given more opportunities to score. World Peace has all but disappeared after a hot start to the season. The Lakers could really use a boost from his scoring. Kapono is a known three point threat; however he’s only made four treys the entire season. It’s no surprise that the Lakers are dead last in the NBA in three point percentage (25.7).

Lakers Injury watch: Steve Blake (fractured rib cartilege, out until mid-February), Derrick Caracter (torn meniscus in left knee, out through January.)

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