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News » Mavericks-Lakers Preview 2009-10-29

Mavericks-Lakers Preview 2009-10-29

Mavericks-Lakers Preview 2009-10-29Kobe Bryant's typical excellence, along with an impressive supporting effort from Andrew Bynum, ensured the Los Angeles Lakers that their championship ring ceremony wouldn't be the lone highlight of the season opener.

The Dallas Mavericks would love to find similar help for their own superstar.

The Lakers may get Pau Gasol back as they look to extend their winning streak over the Mavericks to seven Friday at Staples Center, while Dallas hopes for a better performance from Dirk Nowitzki's supporting cast.

Los Angeles looked less than dominant after raising the banner to commemorate its 15th NBA title, but overcame a 41.2 percent shooting effort to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 99-92 on Tuesday. The Lakers got 33 points from Bryant and 26 and 13 rebounds from Bynum.

"It's always tough to play games after those kind of ceremonies," coach Phil Jackson said. "Some of the energy is always difficult to maintain because there is a lot of energy that's kind of dissipated when you go out and have that kind of ceremony. You're not ready to step up and march to the tune of this season right yet."

While the Lakers got away with a poor shooting night - they also made four of 17 3-pointers and missed 12 of 37 free throws - the Mavericks weren't as fortunate in their season debut.

Dallas shot 39.5 percent against Washington on Tuesday, and though Nowitzki scored a game-high 34 points, he shot 10 of 25 in a 102-91 loss.

Nowitzki didn't get much help from his teammates. Shawn Marion scored 16 points in his Mavericks debut, but no one else had more than 13, with top reserve Jason Terry (4 of 15) among numerous Dallas players who struggled to make shots.

Forward Josh Howard averaged 18.0 points last season, but he is expected to miss at least 10 days as he recovers from offseason ankle and wrist surgery. In the meantime, Dallas needs someone to take the pressure off Nowitzki.

"He would be dead by Christmas if we're going to let him be the offense," said point guard Jason Kidd, who had four points, six rebounds and six assists. "Our team defense stunk. We didn't rebound the ball well. Everything we're supposed to do well was a no-show tonight."

Perhaps Terry will get back in rhythm against the Lakers, as he averaged 23.5 points on 51.0 percent shooting in his last six matchups with Los Angeles. The Mavericks lost all six, although none were decided by more than seven points.

Nowitzki averaged 24.2 points and Bryant 32.7 in those games.

Bynum's strong effort against the Clippers helped make up for the absence of Gasol, who sat out to rest his strained right hamstring. Jackson is hopeful Gasol can return Friday, while the Mavericks would love to see him miss another game.

The forward averaged 21.5 points on 63.3 percent shooting in his last four contests against Dallas, and went 12 of 13 from the floor in a 107-100 home win over the Mavs on March 15.

Nowitzki will likely spend much of Friday's game shadowed by new Laker Ron Artest, who had 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting in his debut with Los Angeles but also committed four turnovers.

"Some offensive things he had opportunities for he didn't complete, but I thought he looked like he was in the mix and knew what was going on most of the time," Jackson told the Lakers' official Web site.

The Mavericks lost 33 of their last 36 road games against the Lakers.

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Added: October 29, 2009


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