On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers hit the road for their first extended road trip of the season. The first opponent on the three-game road trip is a well-rested and confident Dallas Mavericks team.
The Mavericks started 2-1 this season with both wins coming at home. So far, the high-scoring Mavs have been opening eyes with their offense. Through three games, Dallas is averaging 111 points per game and has yet to finish 48 minutes with fewer than 100 points. For their part, the Lakers are averaging 100 points and have displayed the ability to get hot on the offensive end during this infant season.
Unfortunately, the small sample size on the road is not all that positive for LA.
In the Lakers’ lone away game, they were embarrassed against the Golden State Warriors. With a collection of young and unproven talents, the Lake Show hits the road as an unknown quantity. Shawne Williams, Xavier Henry, and Wesley Johnson are all young players who have not been truly tested playing heavy minutes against an NBA schedule. Against Dallas, this trio will need to perform for the Lakers to have a chance.
On the injury front, Jordan Hill underwent an MRI on Monday morning which revealed a bone bruise in his right knee. In limited minutes this season, Hill has been as efficient as any player in the league. Hill took part in Tuesday’s morning shootaround and expects to be available against Dallas. Hill’s involvement has been a source of debate early in the season due to Mike D’Antoni’s rotation failing to find consistent minutes for the offensive rebounding machine.
For Tuesday night, the Lakers will start the same unit that started against the Hawks: Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Henry, Williams, and Pau Gasol. Gasol is still not fully recovered from a respiratory infection, but the Spaniard expects to play a significant role against the Mavs. With Kobe Bryant out, the Lakers need Gasol playing every night.
In the opposite corner, the top performers for the Mavericks are Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki, who are both averaging 23.3 points per game. Shawn Marion, a player Nash and D’Antoni are familiar with, has started strong averaging 13.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in his first three games of the season. Jose Calderon plays the point for the Mavs and is averaging 7.3 assists per game. Vince Carter is the Mavs’ sixth man, and the 36-year-old Carter has started strong shooting 43.8 percent from the field and averaging 12.7 points per game off the bench.
Though the Mavs may be undergoing a bit of a reconstruction, Dallas has plenty of talent and experience to offer the visiting Lakers’ squad.
Tip-off for the Lakers at Mavericks is at 5:30pm PST.