Archives For February 2010

The Lakers had Thursday off after back-to-back road games to help their bodies rest for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers which means that there isn’t really much Lakers’ news for this morning. However, Los Angeles Times Mark Medina had an early morning post about how the Lakers’ defense has suffered since the return of Kobe.

The Lakers immediately enjoyed some of the positive aspects Bryant typically brings. He netted his sixth game game-winner Tuesday against Memphis and he kept the Lakers in contention throughout the fourth quarter. Though Bryant had an overall sluggish shooting night Wednesday against Dallas possibly because of fatigue, the majority of the failed shots were rooted more in attempts falling short than him selfishly hogging the shooting pie. But there has been one negative consequence upon Bryant’s return, and that’s the team’s defense.

Consider the numbers: the Lakers (43-15) held opponents during Bryant’s five-game absence to 86.6 points, a mark that ranked second-best in the league and was a near 10-point improvement from their regular season average in yielding 96.2 points per game. In the Lakers’ two games since Bryant’s return, the Lakers allowed an average of 99.5 points per game.

This problem doesn’t point to Bryant, but more the team’s reaction to his return. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and guard Derek Fisher had frequently mentioned one of the key factors that ensured a collective effort during Bryant’s absence entailed sharpening up on defense. The theory was that if most of the team felt involved offensively, that energy would carry over on the defensive end and create synergy. The defensive philosophy also extended to the fact that without Bryant’s scoring punch, there may be a chance points would be hard to come by, making it necessary to limit the opponent’s production whenever possible.

Brian Kamenetzky of Land O’ Lakers had a similar post on the reasons for the Lakers dip in defensive efficiency in their previous two games.

It wasn’t a sustainable pace- through Wednesday L.A.’s season long mark of 99.3 is second in the NBA behind Boston’s 99.1- but obviously this week has seen a regression. One explanation beyond the natural ebb and flow of a season suggests the Lakers relaxed little with Kobe back on the floor, losing the do-or-die mentality they had on seemingly every stand in his absence. Another, though, is far more practical:

Turnovers.

Apparently, having Kobe back makes it open season to treat the ball with the same respect teenagers tend to afford their parents. 17 giveaways against Memphis, 17 more against Dallas. This for a squad with the league’s second best turnover rate, against two teams not exactly noted for their ball-hawking (Memphis is 20th in opponents TOR, Dallas 16th). There is no defense for those.

Mike Bresnahan has a story about how Ron Artest has changed his diet and is down more than 15 pounds from what he was to start the season. Artest has been moving much better as of late, which also may be due to him finally getting his foot problem under control, but whatever it is, Lakers fans should be excited that Ron is determined to get back to the defender he was back in 2004.

Early this morning, NBC Sports reported that surgery to repair the pinched nerve in his back may be in play for Luke Walton. He’s going to try and hold off on surgery, but if his back doesn’t improve soon, his season is likely to be ended.

Over at Pro Basketball Talk, Rob Mahoney has a sarcastic post about Andrew Bynum’s post game comments where he criticized the referees:

And don’t even give me that “the refs aren’t perfect, they’ll miss calls on both sides” nonsense. This is an institutional conspiracy. David Stern loves LeBron James and obviously wants the Lakers to lose every game. That’s why the Mavs only committed 16 turnovers while the Lakers committed 17. And that’s why the Lakers were called for 20 fouls while the Mavs were called for 20 fouls. Every referee in the NBA was given the explicit order to make tons of calls against the Lakers, and last night’s game was only the latest piece of evidence to prove it.

Kurt Helin also has a post up about outrageous Lakers’ ticket prices.

DIME Magazine has a post up about how it’s possible that Lebron, ‘Melo and Kevin Durant have all passed up Kobe because the small forward position is what teams should start building their teams around

And finally, Mark Medina has a post up where he asked members of the Los Angeles Zoo to compare Kobe to different wild animals:

Tiger: Tigers have to be self sufficient. They have their own territory and they hunt for themselves. They have to be dependent on themselves. They’re camouflaged. No two Tigers striped patterns are alike.

How Bryant is like a tiger: You don’t find a lot of Tigers and you don’t find a lot of Kobes. For the solitary animals that Tigers are, Kobe, while popular and widely recognizable, he’s not really all that social. You don’t see him on the social scene. He’s not the most social person there is. He is sort of predatory. He’s slow and calculating and then he jumps at it.

-Phillip

Tough Man To Catch Up To

Darius Soriano —  February 25, 2010

After last night’s loss to the Mavs, I think most Lakers fans could use a small pick me up. And nothing does that for me better than a good laugh. Two of the guys that always do that for me (while also providing some excellent hoops knowledge) are the dynamic duo of Tas Melas and JE Skeets of the Basketball Jones. Tas and Skeets are two of my favorites (how could you not love stuff like this), so I was happy when they sent along this video.  Enjoy this quick look – from this year’s ASG in Dallas – at how Tas and Skeets both find out what chasing Kobe is like.  They too now know that locking down Kobe one on one is pretty tough. (Just like a bunch of NBA defenders.)

For most of the season, the Lakers have played some of their best basketball coming out of the half, extending leads they already had or taking leads from opponents. That wasn’t the case last night. Then again, this definitely wasn’t the first night that the Lakers struggled in the third – like they did in Memphis just one night before – but going into the game against Dallas, the Lakers had taken eight third quarter deficits and turned them into victories. That wasn’t the case last night.

There were too many turnovers, they gave up too many offensive rebounds, they fouled too much (at the wrong times, too), they couldn’t close out quarters and Kobe didn’t shoot the ball well. On this second game of back-to-back roadies, the Lakers did not look like potential NBA Champions, and Dallas – the new look Dallas, mind you – looked like a team who was finally able to match up well with the Lakers.

There were some points in last night’s game that make your gut churn looking back at it. The Lakers led 50-43 with less than a minute left in the second quarter and went into the break only up a point. Kobe’s foul on Jason Terry behind the three-point line. Jason Kidd’s wide open three at the end of the third quarter – turning a one-point Lakers lead into a two point Lakers deficit going into the fourth. That 7:54 mark in the fourth quarter, which put the Lakers over the foul limit. Dirk’s missed fade away over Odom – which led to yet another Brendon Haywood offensive rebound, which led to Dirk getting the ball back late in the shot clock. Dirk would hit a back-breaking jumper over Kobe while getting fouled by who is usually the best player on the floor. Kobe knows not to foul so late in the shot clock, but that was just the kind of night it was for the Lakers. You can live with Dirk dropping 30+, but not when it’s coupled with a 30-point game from Jason Terry.

Brian Kamenetzky at Land O’ Lakers wrote about the Lakers propensity to make mistakes despite being given ample chances to win last night’s game:

On the ensuing trip after Odom’s free throws, Jason Kidd brought the ball up the left side, and was met by Bryant, who aggressively went over a Shawn Marion screen to scuttle one of Dallas’ many pick and roll attempts on the evening. Eventually, the ball made its way to Dirk Nowitzki, who took and missed a tough catch and shoot fading away over Odom.

Poke. The Lakers surrendered yet another offensive rebound, this one to Brendan Haywood. The ball never hit the rim, putting the Mavs under the gun to get a shot off. Kidd dribbled right, and found nothing. He fed Nowitzki near the foul line, matched against Kobe, the shot clock nearly expired. Dirk spun left, and right at the buzzer fired another difficult shot.

Poke.

The ball fell as Kobe committed the sin of fouling late in the clock.

Dirk went to the line, and buried the free throw. Mavs by five, 87-82.

Don’t get me wrong- the Lakers didn’t lose the game on this play any more than they did early in the fourth, when they turned the ball over three times in two minutes, committed some terrible fouls, and struggled to run the offense. Or when they gave up six late points to close the first half (including a three-point shooting foul of Jason Terry), or when they scored three points over the first three-plus minutes of the third.

Mark Medina from the Los Angeles Times’ Lakers Blog wrote about the same problems:

There was plenty of time remaining, but the Lakers spent most of it just making silly mistakes. Fisher fell on the ground, Terry made an open three pointer and Dallas had a 90-84 lead with 5:20 remaining. After Bryant’s turnaround jumper missed with the shot clock winding down, forward Pau Gasol missed a rebound in front of him and Brendan Haywood converted on one of two free throws as the Lakers trailed 92-86 with 2:39 left. There was also Bynum’s turnover in the paint that appeared to be a defensive foul. Bynum protested the call instead of getting back on D as Terry’s transition layup gave Dallas a 95-86 lead with 2:14 remaining.

Odom’s six consecutive points kept the Lakers in contention, as they trailed 97-92 at the 1:13 mark, but there would be no Mamba providing the Lakers with another game winner. Though the Lakers trailed 97-94 with 24 seconds remaining and plenty of time on the shot clock, Bryant immediately attempted a three-pointer that rimmed out. Gasol couldn’t secure the loose ball and ultimately was called for an offensive foul. Though Bryant’s two free throws on the next possession cut the lead to 99-96 with nine seconds left, the Lakers didn’t press properly and fouled Nowitzki with one second remaining.

The ending marked a cold reality. There were too many areas that contributed to the Lakers loss, and there wasn’t enough of an effort to fix it.

For those of you who missed the game, Basket Blog has the running diary of the game for all of your big plays and analysis by quarter. John Ireland has a column up on the potential entertainment level of a Lakers-Mavericks playoff series. Rob Mahoney has an article up at Hardwood Paroxysm on why Kobe will always be a topic up for debate. Todd Archer of the Dallas Daily News Mavs Blog has a short piece on what last night’s win meant for the Mavericks players.

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register wrote his column on Derek Fisher and how the Lakers are going to need him to play well for the team to be successful because, in Ding’s opinion, they don’t have anyone better.

Fisher is fast moving into Bryant longtime territory of being an uncommonly divisive player. That’s actually not altogether surprising given that Fisher has a lot of characteristics in common with Bryant. Both would never fail to believe in themselves, which means they’re perfectly willing to believe they’re better than they really are – which isn’t exactly an endearing quality.

But if Fisher believes he’s better than he really is right now, so does Phil Jackson. And ultimately, that’s where the Lakers are with this: They still trust Fisher to do what they need done, which I’ve tried to explain before can’t be boiled down to a shooting percentage or judged by the speed of a defensive slide.

It’s the Lakers’ trust that Fisher will do the right things for the team on the floor that keeps him out there.

That is rooted in but not limited to all the goodwill he has amassed in his past. It’s also that the Lakers don’t have anyone better – and that’s the angle that should be more of a concern for Lakers fans.

I’ll leave you guys with a couple more links to get you through the Lakers’ off day:

Ball Don’t Lie has a post about a new documentary on the Magic/Bird rivalry that will be airing on HBO on March 6th.

Slated to debut nationally on Saturday, March 6, at 8 p.m., the HBO documentary Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals features plenty of amazing basketball and insights on the Magic/Bird relationship from former teammates (Kevin McHale, Cedric Maxwell and Michael Cooper), family members (Bird’s brother Mark and Magic’s sister Evelyn), longtime friends (Arsenio Hall), cultural commentators (Chuck Klosterman) and sports journalists, including ex-Boston Globe scribe Jackie MacMullan, whose recent book on the rivalry was cited by HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg as “an inspiration” for the project during the film’s Boston premiere, held Monday night at the TD Garden.

– ESPN.com (via Dime Mag) has a story up on a portion of Roland Lazenby’s new book about Jerry West where it explains how West talked John Calipari out of drafting Kobe Bryant (h/t to Kurt Helin).

First West had to take the huge gamble of trading veteran center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for their thirteenth pick in the draft. Then he learned that John Calipari, the coach of the New Jersey Nets, planned to take [Kobe] Bryant with the eighth pick before the Lakers could snare him at thirteen.

“Jerry wanted Kobe, so he basically called up and talked Cal out of drafting Kobe,” explained Hal Wiseel, who was with the Nets at the time. West encouraged the Bryant family to talk to Calipari and explain that their son really wanted to play for the Lakers. “He knew if we didn’t take him at eight, he’d drop to Charlotte, and he could make the deal with Charlotte,” Wissel recalled. “Cal was young in the league and, hey, it’s Jerry West on the phone.”

-Phillip

[picappgallerysingle id="7540805"]

In what was a tight, back and forth game for most of the evening, the Lakers just didn’t have enough in reserve to pull out a game that was there for the taking.  All credit should go to Dallas who played well on both ends of the floor, rebounded the ball with effort and aggression, and made shots when it mattered all night.  And even though the Lakers had a chance to win this game, this contest always seemed to be just out of arms reach as a final late game push fell short.

The game started out close as neither team could find any separation from the opposition.  Each team was effective with its initial game plan as Dirk was stroking silky jumpshots while Kidd controlled the flow of the Mavs offense and the Lakers exerted themselves inside with early buckets from Bynum and post ups and finishes from Artest.  The back and forth would continue all game, but a few trends would start to develop as the second unit made their appearances and those trends would be major stories throughout the rest of the game.

The first trend that developed was the Lakers inability to control their defensive glass.  The Lakers bigs were just having trouble securing defensive rebounds and the extra possessions that Dallas earned would be costly to the Lakers defense as they mostly took advantage of the additional shots by either scoring or earning trips to the foul line.  It’s not like the Lakers rebounding was bad for the entire evening, but long bounces off jumpers went Dallas’ way and even when the Lakers were in position to grab the ball it just didn’t happen.  I mean, Kobe would collide with Pau and the ball would go out of bounds.  Bynum or Gasol would have the ball on their fingertips only to have a hustling Maverick tip it away late or body them up and watch them fumble it away.  And so it went for most of the night for the Lakers on the glass.  And without gaining much traction on their defensive glass, it was tough for the Lakers to get any flow on offense as too many possessions ended with the Lakers not changing ends in their normal fashion as they were constantly battling for rebounds with Haywood, Najera, and Marion.

The second trend that developed was a red hot Jason Terry.  In the game preview I wrote:

As for Terry, he is a notorious Laker killer and he needs to be marked from the moment he’s sitting at the scorers table to come into the game.  He can light it up from anywhere and relishes his chances to stick it to the Lakers.  I think we’ll see a lot of Shannon on JET tonight and that means we need the disciplined defense that WOW showed against Portland and San Antonio to make sure that Terry doesn’t get that good feeling going.

Let’s just say that Terry found plenty of space to operate in this game and in his typical form, he lit us up.  30 points on only 20 shots for JET as he filled it up from the three point line when his man gambled on steals in the post or lost him in transition.  And then when the Lakers tried to pressure him too far from the basket, he’d use his quickness to get by them and get into the lane to finish there.  Just an explosive night on offense for a player that has been doing it for years against the Lakers.  If it wasn’t so predictable, it’d be amazing.  Sadly it was just typical Terry when he sees the Purple and Gold of the Lakers.

But it wasn’t just Terry that hurt the Lakers.  It was Dirk too.  The big German was his normal fantastic self scoring on mid range jumpers, post ups, and earning trips to the foul line with his array of up and unders, feints, and ball fakes.  The man just put on an great shooting display scoring 31 points on only 19 shots and did it without even taking a three pointer.  Add to that his 9 rebounds and only one turnover and he was just the complete player that fans once overrated, but now don’t seem to appreciate enough.  Dirk also provided the key play of the game when he found himself with the ball isolated on Kobe at the FT line with only a few ticks left on the shot clock.  Dirk went into his trademark crouch to back down Kobe, turned, ball faked, and then dipped around Kobe and sank the jumper while simultaneously taking a swipe to the head.  He then extended his arms in a celebratory show of exuberance that showed how much he really wanted this game.

And tonight, that really was the difference.  The Mavs really wanted this game and they played with heart and effort the entire night.  And while the Lakers also played hard, it was mostly in stretches when they sensed a push would get them to the finish line and a victory.  And that type of effort just wasn’t enough tonight.  The Lakers didn’t play with the assertiveness or the smarts that would earn them a victory and Dallas did.  Simple and plain.

A couple of other notes on  this one:

*The Lakers offense is really not in synch right now.  Tonight’s game produced an offensive rating of 101.7 which is essentially what it looks like to watch the Timberwolves play every night.  Some of that can be attributed to the poor shooting night of Kobe and the low FT attempts, but something is not right and it’s been this way all season.  Obviously tonight was well below even the Lakers standards this year, but it’s nights like this that contribute to the Lakers hovering around 10th in offensive efficiency all season.  If I had to do a mini break down of our offensive woes, I think our issues continue to be our lack of outside shooting (5-17 from 3 against the Mavs is below average for us, but all too typical) and our inability to stick to running our offense.  The ball is still sticking too much when Bynum has the ball, Kobe is still running too much P&R, and our other guards continue to over dribble and use shoddy decision making in both the open and half court.  And, even on nights when the shots are falling, most of our makes come from the talent level of our players rather than the team work that should flow from our sets.  Is our offensive execution a fatal flaw?  I don’t know, but it’s troubling to me that after 58 games the Lakers still haven’t righted the ship on offense are still not performing at a level that is representative of the talent on this roster.

*Turnovers have really hurt this team in the last two games.  Last night the Lakers were able to overcome the 17 gaffes.  Not tonight with a repeat in the number of giveaways.  Call it fatigue if you want.  Call it an adjustment to having Kobe back in the lineup.  I call it lazy post entries, rushing passes to players that aren’t open, and silly offensive fouls where players are so anxious to shoot that they forget they can’t break the rules to get their shot off.

*I was impressed with the interior presence of Haywood.  On defense, he was strong in holding his position and contested shots at every opportunity.  He also rebounded well on both ends with 9 rebounds total (4 offensive) and gives this team much more than Dampier can.  That said, Dallas’ lack of interior depth will come back to hurt them if Dampier can’t return to health and show effectiveness for the stretch run.  Running Najera out there to defend a Gasol (or a Duncan or a Nene or a Boozer) is going to be a problem for this team in a meaningful playoff game.

*I continue to be impressed with Jason Kidd.  Has he lost a step?  Yes.  He is 36.  But his control over a game – especially offensively – and ability to run a team remains the highest level.  Combine that with his not-so-fluky-anymore improvement shooting the long ball and you’ve got a player that hurts you when you double off him and can dissect you with passes for his mates when you pay too much attention to Dirk or Terry.

[picappgallerysingle id="7540815"]
Records: Lakers 43-14 (1st in the West), Mavericks 36-21 (4th in the West, 7.0 games behind the Lakers)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 108.8 (9th in NBA), Mavericks 108.0 (12th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.9 (2nd in NBA), Mavericks 105.9 (12th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Mavericks: Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood

A note on game winners:  Last night’s jumper was the fifth time that Kobe outright beat a team with the last made shot of a game.  That glorious three point bomb joined his three pointer against the Kings, his running sideways three against the Heat, his turn around jumer against the Bucks, and his pull up jumper against the Celtics.  Environment doesn’t matter to our guy as Kobe’s made two of these shots at home and three on the road.  If you want to be less strict about game winners, you can add the jumper Kobe sank to untie the game against the Mavs back in January as another clutch shot that directly led to victory.  As I mentioned last night, this is a special player that his having a special year.  We should all enjoy this because players and performances like this don’t come around too often.

And for those debating clutchness, one measure of how a player performs in the clutch is what he does in the 4th quarter and overtime.  So far this season, Kobe has hit 18 shots that have given the Lakers the lead in this situation – tops in the league.  So when the game is close and the Lakers are within a basket to take the lead, Kobe is hitting more shots than any other player.  Pretty impressive.  Second on that list?  He plays for the team that we face tonight.  Dirk has hit 14 such shots this season.  He’s pretty good too.  (*Stats from ESPN Stats and the Elias Sports Bureau)

The Mavericks Coming in:  As we’ve covered a lot around here, the Mavericks have added some new faces.  The Butler and Haywood upgrade has been discussed and dissected everywhere so I won’t get into that now.  Not because it’s not important, but because in recent days the Mavs have made a couple of other really important moves.  That’s right – Von Wafer and Dwayne Jones are now Mavericks!  All joking aside, Von and Dwayne are recent signees of the Mavs and look to get limited minutes as insurance to some other injuries and depth issues the Mavs are dealing with.  One under reported consequence of the trade with the Wiz (and an earlier trade that the Mavs made with the Nets to reacquire Eddie Najera) is that the Mavs are really lacking in big man depth.  In losing both Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden in trades and with Eric Dampier in street clothes with a busted hand, the Mavs need some bodies to play behind their improved core.  Wafer and Jones are getting their shots with 10 day contracts to see if they can be those players to help out.  If not, the Mavs will look for some other player to step in.

Looking at the Mavs since their acquisition of Butler/Haywood, you see that the Mavs are back to their winning ways.  They’ve won four in a row by an average of almost nine points per game.  I say back to their winning ways because one of the reasons that Mark Cuban was even willing to make this trade (and take on the additional salary and coressponding luxury tax hit) was because the Mavs were in a real funk.  Over the 15 games before the trade, the Mavs had lost 8 games and a .500 hundred team is not going to inspire any confidence for a deep post season run, which is what the Mavs (and their owner) want and expect.  So, at this point the Mavs are back on track and are hoping to make a push into one of the top 3 seeds in the west and an avoidance of the Lakers in the 2nd round.  Can they pull it off?  A win tonight would certainly help with the confidence they’ll need to move in that direction.

Mavericks Blogs:  Rob Mahoney at the Two Man Game is one of the best bloggers around and deserves our attention.  He’s always getting fans meaninful information about the Mavs.  (He’s also one of the main contributors at ProBasketballTalk).  Go read his stuff.

Keys to game:  Tonight’s game will be a bit of a feeling out process for both teams while also serving as a measuring stick for both sqauds.  While all the pieces are familiar, this is a new Mavs team and one that the Lakers are going to need to take stock of.  And from the Mavs persepective, the Lakers are the team that they need to measure themselves against and with their new players, they need to see if the moves made have helped them match up better.

On offense, the Lakers need to attack the Mavs in the same way that they started to attack the Grizzlies in the first quarter last night.  That means early post touches for Pau against Dirk and for Drew against Haywood.  The Lakers advantage inside may not be what it typically is against a team with good big men like the Mavs, that does not mean you go away from your strength.  Enter the ball into the post and then run the offense.  Last night against the Grizz, the Lakers got away from running their offense and the game turned sloppy as they turned the ball over repeatedly.  Tonight, the Lakers need to stick to the plan and execute the Triangle.  I know I say this every game, but the Lakers offesne – when run correctly – allows for a variety of options that almost always lead to an advantage when strung out.  Pass the ball, move, and then pass the ball more.  It will lead to open shots.

One aspect I’d like to see the Lakers offense improve on tonight is being aware of the Mav’s guards digging down to help on the post.  Recently, both with and without Kobe, the Lakers bigs have been going into their moves to score the ball and have not been aware of late help coming to swipe at the ball for steals and contest shots to get blocks.  Last night Rudy Gay was very effective at helping late to contest shots and Conley/Mayo were also effective in digging down to disrupt the post moves of our bigs.  Tonight, the Lakers face Jason Kidd who is one of the best guards in the league at this technique and they’ll need to be ready.  Our bigs need to be patient, but when they do decide to make their move it must be agressive while still done with awareness because the Mavs guards (and Kidd specifically) will be helping off our guards (who have struggled to make jumpers) to bother our bigs and are betting that our shooters not named Kobe will not make them pay.

On defense, it all starts with slowing down Dirk.  I could go on and on about a player that I think is one of the (still) underrated players in the game, but I won’t.  Just understand that the guy has 20,000+ career points for a reason.  He can hurt you in a variety of ways and marking him in both the half court and on the secondary break is key to slowing the Mavs attack.  Luckily, I think the Lakers happen to have two of the best defenders to throw at Nowitzki in Pau and Lamar.  Both of our guys must find him early in the clock and push him out of his comfort zone.  Make him drive right to shoot his jumper and always be aware that when the ball goes on the ground he loves to spin back over his right shoulder to shoot his pretty fade-away jumper.

The other key players on offense to watch are Kidd and Terry.  Despite his age, Kidd is still playing high level offensive basketball.  Watching him operate with the ball in his hands never gets old as he consistently makes the right decision and rarely forces the action.  The key to slowing Kidd down, I think, is to pressure the ball and make him work to get to the spots on the floor that he likes.  When left to move unimpeded, Kidd can execute you to death by picking out players with pin point passes that set them up for easy shots.  He’s truly like the quarterback that leads his WR’s perfectly so they can run after the catch.  So, in keeping the football analogy alive, I think you need to pressure the passer and make him beat you when feeling the heat.  As for Terry, he is a notorious Laker killer and he needs to be marked from the moment he’s sitting at the scorers table to come into the game.  He can light it up from anywhere and relishes his chances to stick it to the Lakers.  I think we’ll see a lot of Shannon on JET tonight and that means we need the disciplined defense that WOW showed against Portland and San Antonio to make sure that Terry doesn’t get that good feeling going.  One other player that needs to be mentioned is rookie speedster Roddy Beaubois.  The Mavs are high on him and for good reason.  He’s a blur in the open court and can create shots with the best of them.  Almost half of his shots come within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, so you know he’s looking to push pace and get easy buckets.  Talent evaluators have compared him to Tony Parker and Leandro Barbosa which is high praise and means that we better be paying attention to him – especially since he is the type of guard that traditionally gives the Lakers problems.

Where you can watch:  6:00pm start here in the West, Nationally on ESPN and Locally on KCAL 9, also on ESPN Radio 710am.