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Lakers-Mavericks matchup: Five things to watch

March 21, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Will the Lakers turn around their road problems against Dallas?
Will the Lakers turn around their road problems against Dallas? (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)

Some things to keep an eye on when the Lakers (28-18) visit the Dallas Mavericks (27-20) Wednesday at American Airlines Arena.

1. What will the Lakers' attitude look like against Dallas? You'd think the Lakers would play angry both for their unraveling Tuesday against Houston and because of that whole sweep by Dallas in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals. You'd think the Lakers would take advantage of Dallas' depleted roster (minus Brendan Haywood and Delonte West) after failing to take advantage of injury-plagued teams this week against Utah and Houston. You'd think the Lakers would actually show effort on defense after allowing 102 points per game for the past eight contests. Unfortunately both for the Lakers and their fans, it's really hard to assume anything.

2. Kobe Bryant vs. Shawn Marion will be the matchup to watch. If you're frustrated with Bryant either missing really good and easy shots against Utah or taking ridiculously horrible ones against Houston, well that might not change. Marion, whose knee issues probably won't keep him from playing Wednesday night, has held Bryant to 14.5 points per game on 29.7% shooting. That's an far cry from his league-leading 28.7 points per game. If Marion winds up making Bryant work for his shots, it's best that he stop playing hero ball.

3. How will Ramon Sessions be paired with Bryant? Laker fans are clamoring more and more for Sessions to start because of his quick acclimation and Steve Blake's nonpresence on the scoring column. For now, Brown's sticking with the same rotation. What matters more is how he uses Sessions late in the game, and in that respect, Brown failed horribly against Houston. Sessions was paired with Bryant for the final 4:45, resulting in Bryant getting most of the ball handling duties and the shots. While the Lakers offense looked out of sync, Houston went on an 18-7 run. Part of the blame goes to Bryant for not allowing Sessions to do his job, but where was Brown in this in calling the sets?

4. How will Lamar Odom look? There's conflicting information on whether Odom's finally providing value to the Mavericks. The box scores still suggest his shooting remains abysmal. But Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle likes his play and Odom has recently apologized to his teammates for his poor performance this season. Will his first game against the Lakers in Dallas give him the closure he needs? Or will the spiral will continue? Find out in the next episode of Khloe & Lamar. Actually, check that. Just watch the game.

5. The Lakers need to use their frontline correctly. After posting 40 first-quarter points against Houston through fluid ball movement, smart shots and efficient cutting, the Lakers suddenly ran their offense in isolation. The reasons escape me since it appears the Lakers always change good habits just for the sake of doing it. But the Lakers need to set up Pau Gasol so he can counter Dirk Nowitzki's prolific shooting and so that Andrew Bynum fully takes advantage of an absent Haywood.


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