The Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Dallas Mavericks 96-91 Saturday night to end their four-game road trip 3-1. The Lakers are regaining form, and clearly are treating the second half of the season like their playoff tune-up.
The Mamba and Co. went into American Airlines Center and still reminded the Mavericks that they are the team to beat, without even putting their best foot forward. The Mamba, not only struggled from the field going 6-of-20, only scoring 16 points, even had an ankle sprain scare in the latter part of the third quarter, which cost him to miss the end of the third, and half of the fourth quarter before he returned to the ball game. He hit a key shot late in the fourth that would eventually help the Lakers preserve the win.
The bench play was solid, but it was the strong play from the front-court that really help the Lakers secure the win. AB went for 22 points and 15 rebounds, The Spaniard scored 18 points, and Ron-Ron scored 12 points, none bigger than an offensive rebound and put-back he had with two minutes left in the game.
When the Lakers get a total team effort like they did Saturday night, its tough to imagine how any team can beat them in a seven-game series. The Lakeshow have won nine out of their last ten ball games to post a league best 9-1 record since the all-star break. They demolished the San Antonio Spurs on the road, won a road game in Hotlanata (something they haven’t done in three years) and are defeating teams they should beat soundly. The lone blemish, was a loss to a struggling Miami team on the road, a game they clearly gave away due to uncharacteristic mistakes by the Lakers late in the ball game. You can see the focus, dominance and poise in this team in the second half of the season, as the Lakers have visibly raised their level of play.
The Lakers won’t play another road game til the beginning of April. The three games on the slate this week include a rematch/payback game against the Orlando Magic on Monday, the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, and another matchup against the pesky Portland Trailblazers on Sunday.
For all the talk about there being a sense of panic in LaLa Land during the middle of the season, it now appears that a sense of panic should start to set in for the rest of the NBA, as the two-time defending champions are rounding into shape, right on cue.
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Written by Arthur Kai