The (43-14) Los Angeles Lakers are in Texas for a back-to-back game against the (36-21) Dallas Mavericks.
Despite the fact that the Lakers fared well without Kobe, the team and the fans are equally elated to have him back. He returned from a much needed 18-day rest from an ankle injury just in time to save the Lakers from losing to the Grizzlies, again.
Kobe was brilliant in his first game back, playing 40-minutes, filling the stat sheet with 32 points with seven boards, six assists, three steals, two blocked shots, and knocked down the game winning three pointer with 4.3 seconds left to finish off the Memphis Grizzlies.
Bryant is currently 14th on the All-Time scoring list, prior to 6:30pm he will pass Reggie Miller and move up to 13th, 335 points behind Alex English; he will surpass the Hall of Famers point total of 25,613 on March 21st at Staples Center against the Wizards or sooner. Bryant is averaging 15 points against Dallas this season, look for that to change.
Pau Gasol had a solid game posting a double-double with 22 points, 13 boards and an excellent defensive closeout on O.J. Mayo’s attempt at the end of the game.
The good news coming out of Tuesday’s game is that the Lakers got off to a good start and won the game on Kobe’s 5th game winning shot of the season. The bad news is that the Lakers seem to stop playing defense in the middle of the game, shot badly from the free throw line, and were out-rebounded.
The Lakers will face the new-look Mavericks tonight in a battle of two of the best teams in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks, beneficiaries of the Wizards fire sale have added solid pieces in Caron Butler, Brendon Haywood, and DeShawn Stephenson. Caron learned a lot from playing with Kobe (see article “Caron Grateful He Was Kobe’s teammate”); it’s quite evident that Kobe made him a better player. Haywood gives the Mavericks a better more productive option in the post than Erik Dampier.
The Lakers are very familiar with this team; well aware of the fact that Jason Kidd will push the ball down the court, runs the show for this team, can and will distribute the ball to his teammates in position to be effective. He isn’t the best shooter from behind the arc, but he can and will knock that shot down. Kidd can play in the post and back down smaller guards.
The Lakers have to make life difficult for Dirk Nowitzki and limit the impact of Jason Terry off the bench who will come into looking to light it up. The Lakers have to force him into a bad shooting night. Butler has benefited from the change in scenery. The Mavericks use a lot of screen and roll action plays down screens, back screens, etc. to free up Butler to display his mid-range game or attack the basket.
The Lakers have to control the tempo, pick up their intensity on defense, out-rebound this team, and the Lakers bench has to step their game up and score at least 30 points or more to match the production of the Dallas bench. The Lakers frontline has to come out aggressive from the start of the game get a lead to take the crowd out of the game.
The Purple and Gold will win by outworking the Mavericks, using excellent ball movement, and excellent player movement.
Tip-off: 6:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ESPN & KCAL (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Dallas: ESPN & KTXA 21 (Mark Followill & Brad Davis)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Dallas: ESPN 103.3 (Bob Ortegal & Chuck Cooperstein)
- Luke Walton (Back) Out
- Kobe Bryant ( Sprained Tendon, Left Ankle/Avulsion fracture, right index finger)
- Sasha Vujacic (Sprained Shoulder) Out
- Andrew Bynum (Bruised Right Hip)
- PF Tim Thomas (Personal Reasons)
- C Erik Dampier (Dislocated Right Middle Finger) Out