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Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day Laker Nation!

The (9-5) Los Angeles Lakers host the (8-5) defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The NBA is celebrating MLK day with 11 games on the schedule one of which is the Western Conference Semi-Final re-match between the Mavericks and the Lakers. Tonight’s game is one of those games that the Lakers have had circled on their calendars’ for a long time.

It is hard to remove the images of how last season ended for the Laker Nation. An interesting question is what type of rebounding effort will the purple and gold put on display. The Lakers are looking to bounce back from their third loss to the Clippers and get back on the winning track. However, despite two different opponents once again the rebounding effort remains a topic of conversation.

Kobe Bryant posted his fourth straight 40-point performance in the loss. Kobe Bryant, once again, named the Western Conference Player of the week after leading L.A. to a 3-1 record as well as scoring 40-points per game.

For the Lakers to win tonight and exact some revenge against the Mavericks, they will need a team effort with all hands on deck. The Lakers success begins and ends with their defense. Lamar Odom returns tonight after an emotional and event filled off-season.  The Lakers need to make the adjustments tonight against the Mavericks that they failed to make in the post season.

A few of the adjustments are more dominance from the Lakers front line, more shots for Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol. Coming out of the series against the Mavericks the biggest takeaway was the lack of an impact by Pau Gasol. Pau Gasol has to be present and accounted for, play big and be aggressive. Pau Gasol was timid, lethargic and almost non-existent in the post season.

Due to new additions and a lack of familiarity, the Mavericks started slowly, but have started to play good basketball. Dallas is a balanced scoring team with several weapons. The Mavericks are an excellent passing team that will challenge your defensive rotations.

The purple and gold need their best defensive performance of the year, boxing out their men, a stronger rebounding effort, do a better job of taking care of the ball, better ball movement, more player movement and better shot selection. The Mavericks frustrated the Lakers with their zone defense in the last meeting; Gasol & Bynum should be huge in attacking the Dallas zone tonight.

It is imperative that the Lakers stop the dribble penetration of the guards (Jason Kidd & Rodrigue Beaubois), do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, control the tempo, get back in transition and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers, by necessity are playing Darius Morris, Devin Ebanks and Andrew Goudelock. Darius Morris is showing a lot of potential, although it is becoming evident that he will compete. The Lakers short-handed bench has to make an impact and knock down shots.

The Lakers should be more motivated to play this team than any other in the league. Look for the Lakers to play with much more energy, intensity and focus.

Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Mavericks:
J. Kidd, D. West, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, B. Haywood  

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: TNT
  • Dallas: TNT

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Dallas: ESPN 103.3 (Bob Ortegal & Chuck Cooperstein)

Injuries -

 

Lakers:

  • Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
  • Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Shoulder) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Bruised Ribs) Out

      Mavericks:

None