A comment thread below started to drift toward a discussion of how the Lakers donâ€™t need to get stars this off-season but more role players â€” someone who can bring to the Lakers what (for example) Reggie Evans and Danny Fortson have brought to Seattle.
Another great example is tonightâ€™s opponent, Dallas Mavericks. When you look at their lineup the first guy to pop into your head is certainly not Erick Dampier. But he went down with a stress fracture in his right foot last month, and since then the Mavericks are just 5-4. (To be fair, both Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki have missed some games in that stretch as well).
Without Dampier in the middle as a last line of defense on penetration and grabbing rebounds, six of the Maverickâ€™s last nine opponents have shot better than 50% eFG% (for the season teams shoot 47.4%) and all have pulled down double-digit offensive rebounds. Those things have cut into their ability to stop opponents and led directly to losses. The Lakers, in a win last week, shot 52.4% and had 12 offensive rebounds.
The good news for the Lakers tonight is that Dampier is still on the IR. The bad news is that both Finley and Nowitzki are expected to play.
Last week when these two hooked up I wrote about Nowitzkiâ€™s MVP-caliber year. This time, lets talk about his new, short-cropped haircut. “My bangs were too long and I couldnâ€™t see very well,â€ was his explaination. The good news for me is I have the same hairstyle as Dirk, the bad news is I went short for the opposite reason of the bangs hanging in my face.
Dear Dirk … I grew out my blond hair because yours was long. Now that you’ve cut yours, should I do the same? Thanks for you advice Dirk.
Dirk says: Yes, of course you should do the same.
Dear Dirk … Hi! Great job this year — MVP for sure. I have been married almost three years and I am really searching for a romantic restaurant in the Dallas area can you recommend any that are really special and will leave my wife breathless?
Dirk says: “Do I look like I take anyone on romantic dinners?”
Dear Dirk … I have a lady problem. Since you look like a ladies’ man maybe you can help me out. I like this girl. She seems somewhat interested. What is a good date that would win her over? Also should I trade Jason Richardson and Chris Bosh to get you on my fantasy basketball team?
Dirk says: “Fly her down for a Mavs game, and I recommend sticking with Richardson and Bosh for your fantasy basketball team.”
Dear Dirk … Help, my cable is out, can you send someone?
Dirk says: “I am on my way!”
As for tonight, Chucky Atkins is going to have to step up for the Lakers to have a chance. In the first game between these two Dallas point Jason Terry pretty much had his way with Atkins, scoring 28 on 10 of 11 shooting. He had 12 points and six assists in the next game. Meanwhile Atkins has shot 35.7% (eFG%) in the two games.
While weâ€™re talking defense, a lot is going to fall on Caron Butler tonight, who has to make sure Finley doesnâ€™t take over the game. It was Kobe who took over the fourth quarter of the game last week, look for Dallas to make the defensive adjustments and force someone else â€” Lamar â€” to step forward.
The Lakers are 30-29 heading into this six-game road trip and, if at the end of it, they are not 33-32 or better, the odds of making the playoffs will be pretty long. A win in Dallas would be a big start to this, but (like everything on this trip) it wonâ€™t come easily.