(Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It’s February 22, 2012 and the (19-13) Los Angeles Lakers are in the heart of Texas to put the off-the-court turmoil behind them and face the (21-12) defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers embark on a short, but very important two-game road trip that pits L.A. against the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder on back-to-back nights.

The Lakers return to the American Airlines Arena, where their 2010-2011 season came to an abrupt end under an avalanche of three’s, an NBA-record tying 20-three point shots leading to a 36-point defeat nine-months and 14-days ago that completed a four game sweep. The loss was an embarrassing exit for Head Coach Phil Jackson arguably the best coach in NBA history.

The Lakers will have revenge on their minds; Hopefully L.A. bought their ‘A’ game on this road trip. The Lakers, 5-11 away from the Staples Center and have not looked like the same team on the road.  The Lakers have won six of their last 10 games.

The Lakers currently lead their season series with the Mavericks (1-0) after taking last season’s series 2-1. The Lakers have gone 4-6 in their last 10 regular season games at American Airlines Arena. In their first meeting, Derek Fisher knocked down a game winning three-pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining to give L.A. a 73-70 victory.

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Mavericks are playing good basketball, winners of seven of their last eight games. Dallas is a balanced scoring team with several weapons. The Mavericks do an excellent job of sharing the basketball that will challenge your defensive rotations. At times, the Mavericks have frustrated the Lakers with their zone defense the Lakers front line, specifically Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol have to be factors attacking the zone.

Pau Gasol was not only non-existent in the post season Gasol was a non-factor in the Laker win over the Mavericks on January 16th scoring eight points on 3-for-11 shooting. Gasol has played well of late averaging 16.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. The first quarter of the Blazers game should be the blueprint the Lakers should use as a plan of attack on a nightly basis.

The Lakers need to do a good job of moving the basketball and moving bodies to find a high percentage shot. It is imperative that the Lakers establish both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the post and give each enough touches to affect the outcome of the game.

The Tonight’s game should have a playoff feel to it seeing as the Lakers rank as the 6th best in the NBA in points allowed, the Mavericks 4th best surprisingly these teams are separated by a mere 0.4 difference.

The Lakers need to communicate of defense, play better against the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, control the boards, get back in transition and quickly rotate out to open shooters. Steve Blake’s return has improved the production of the bench, the reserves need to score 35+ and not allow the Mavericks reserves to out-score them. The Lakers need to out-hustle, out-rebound, simply out-work the Mavericks, and as the league’s top rebounding team own the glass on both ends of the court.

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

Tip-off: 6:30 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz) & ESPN
  • Dallas: FS SW (Mark Followill & Brad Davis) & ESPN

Radio -

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

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral fracture) Probable

      Mavericks:

  • Jason Terry (Quadriceps) Probable
  • Delonte West (Right Ring Finger Surgery) Out
  • Lamar Odom (Family Matter) Out