Lakers-Mavericks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 24, 2012
The Los Angeles Lakers' early struggles have been well-documented, and now they're on the verge of reaching another dubious mark. They'll hope to avoid their worst road start in 19 years Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks, who are looking to build off one of their more notable victories of the season. The offseason acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash couldn't help avoid Los Angeles' 1-4 start, especially with Nash missing the last 11 games with a bruised left shin. That rough stretch cost former coach Mike Brown his job, but it appeared the Lakers had rebounded in winning five of their next six games, including a victory over Brooklyn on Tuesday in Mike D'Antoni's debut. As it continues to adjust to D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense, though, Los Angeles fell 113-97 at woeful Sacramento the following night before a 106-98 defeat at Memphis on Friday. Kobe Bryant shot only 7 of 23 but scored a game-high 30 points for the Lakers (6-7), who are trying to avoid their first 0-5 road start on the road since dropping their first six away from home in 1993. ''Offense is all about rhythm,'' D'Antoni said. ''We had some sometimes, but we have got to maintain the rhythm of the game and we are not there yet.'' Pau Gasol finished with six points and Howard attempted just seven shots and had seven points for the second straight game, hitting two field goals in each. The Lakers are 0-5 when Gasol scores 10 or fewer points. He didn't play in the fourth quarter with D'Antoni looking to play with a quicker lineup. ''That's not my decision, my call. I'm a professional. When my number is called, I'm out there,'' Gasol said. ''That is something that I don't think has happened to me.'' The Mavericks figured they'd struggle without Dirk Nowitzki for the first part of the season, but offseason additions O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison have helped make up for his lost production. Since getting off to a 4-1 start, Dallas (7-6) hasn't played its best ball with Nowitzki recovering from knee surgery. It knocked off New York 114-111 on Wednesday, though, behind 27 points from Mayo. ''Big confidence boost,'' Mayo said. The Mavericks had lost two of three at home before Wednesday's win. "It gives us confidence," reserve Dahntay Jones said. "We needed to get a good win at home to get our team at a high, so I think we're in a good spot to get a win on Saturday." Vince Carter added 25 points off the bench and Collison finished with 19 and seven assists. Mayo is averaging a team-best 22.2 points while Collison has been solid running the point, contributing 13.8 points and 6.5 assists per game. ''First and foremost, it was a collective effort,'' Carter said. ''This was one of (Collison's) best games since the very beginning of the season. He's very hard on himself. He wants to win, and that's what I like about him.'' Collison hit 8 of 12 shots and scored 17 points to lead six players in double figures in Dallas' 99-91 road victory over Los Angeles in both teams' season opener Oct. 30. Gasol scored a game-high 23 points, Bryant had 22 and Howard finished with 19 in that contest, but Dallas ended a four-game skid in the series.
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