Suddenly Hot Mavericks Take On Lakers

Dallas is a good basketball team. Really, they still are.

Sure they are just 7-7. Sure, the Lakers already beat them 106-99 in Dallas. Sure pundits wrote the Mavericks off as no longer a title contender before the season even started and some even had them missing the playoffs (which they would if the playoffs started today).

But Dallas comes into Staples Center tonight winners of five straight, with their star Dirk Nowitzki and the long-time Lakers thorn-in-the-side Jason Terry both red hot. And the Lakers may have to stop them without center Andrew Bynum, who is listed as questionable with a bone spur in his foot.

Pau Gasol did a good job covering Nowitzki in the second half of the Lakers win earlier this month, but if Bynum is out Gasol will have to slide over to the center spot to cover Erick Dampier (well, as much as one really has to cover him, just keep him off the boards, but that could matter as Dallas had 20 offense rebounds in the first meeting). Lamar Odom likely would get the Nowitzki assignment.

During the five-game winning streak for the Mavericks Nowitzki has been shooting 46% (up from 40% the previous five), 50% from three point range and is scoring 28 points per game.

Jason Terry is back to coming off the bench (Antoine Wright is the starter) but he has thrived as a sixth man. During the five-game winning streak he is shooting 53.6% and is scoring 23 points per game.

The Mavericks will also have Josh Howard in the starting lineup, he didn’t play in the first meeting.

For the Lakers, there is no news about Andrew Bynum, who has a loose bone spur in his foot. That sounds really painful, but the Lakers say he is just day-to-day. Of course, their medical staff said he would be back in a couple months after last season’s knee injury. So, go ahead and fret a little, Lakers fans.

The good news, if there is no Bynum the Lakers will just have to fall back on the starting lineup that made it to the NBA Finals last year. Not too shabby.

Tip off is at 7:30 p.m.

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