(Photo By: Glenn James/Getty Images)
Lakers at Mavericks: 3 Things to Know (2/10/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers look to extend their winning streak against the Dallas Mavericks.
1) Three Lakers have led the recent charge
The purple and gold are on a four-game winning streak that can be traced to three individual surges and one team-wide leap.
The Lakers are 4-0 since shifting Brandon Ingram to point guard and starting Josh Hart, as both players have been instrumental in loud ways.
Ingram has been a playmaker for himself and others, averaging 19.3 points and 6.5 assists since taking over the point. Coach Luke Walton has simplified the offense for him, instead asking Ingram to find offensive opportunities by pushing the pace against unsettled defenses.
Meanwhile, Hart has also contributed to the Lakers’ high-speed game plan by tearing down rebound after rebound, averaging 11.0 per game since entering the starting unit. A do-it-all type of player, Hart has also put up 13.5 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 3-pointers, while shooting 63.3 percent from the field and 10-of-18 from deep.
Then there is Julius Randle, whom President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson said is performing “the best I’ve ever seen him play.” Randle has brought the muscle to each matchup, bullying opposing bigs in the post toward 19.0 points a night.
Finally, the Lakers have played some stifling defense. During this four-game stretch, they are holding opponents to the league’s second-fewest points (94.3) and worst field goal percentage (40.8).
2) Two new players join the crew
The trade deadline shook up the Lakers’ rotation, as Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye were acquired from Cleveland for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
(From a longterm lens, the trade also brought the Lakers a 2018 first-round pick and opened up extra cap space.)
Clarkson and Nance were each playing impactful minutes for the Lakers, meaning Thomas and Frye should have immediate roles to fill on this squad, beginning in Dallas.
The Lakers have searched all season for a reliable point guard to run the second unit, and Thomas could very well do that for the final 28 games of the season. The NBA’s third-leading scorer last season (28.9 points per game), Thomas struggled to find that effectiveness in Cleveland due to a multitude of factors, including a nagging hip injury.
Thomas’ game is based on his explosiveness getting to the rim (a league-high 9.5 points on drives last year). While he hasn’t had the same success this season, he has been good at using pick-and-rolls to set up his pull-up jumper.
With a roster full of pick-and-pop bigs (Brook Lopez, Kyle Kuzma and Frye), as well as one of the league’s most efficient roll men (Randle), Thomas’ ability to attack off ball screens could be a nice fit with the Lakers.
Frye, meanwhile, provides floor spacing as one of the NBA’s original stretch bigs, and is crafty when it comes to slipping into the paint, where he has shot an impressive 26-of-31 on layups.
3) Dallas is searching for its footing
The Mavericks limp into this contest, having lost seven of their last eight games. It has been a team-wide offensive slump, as they rank last in the NBA in field goal percentage (41.3) and 29th in scoring (95.6) during this sample.
Nevertheless, the Lakers’ worst losses of the year (vs. Phoenix, at Orlando, etc.) have come when they have underestimated opponents at the bottom of the standings.
While having to blend in two new players, L.A. would be wise not to assume that victory is assured.
Keep a look out for rookie Dennis Smith Jr., who has scored double figures in 19 straight games and veteran Dirk Nowitzki, who is having his most efficient season from the 3-point line at 39 years old.
Lakers: Lonzo Ball (sore left knee) is out.
Mavericks: Harrison Barnes (left ankle sprain) is probable. Jonathan Motley (left ankle sprain) is questionable. Seth Curry (left leg surgery), Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) and Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) are out.
Tip-Off: 5:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Purple Statement
Location: American Airlines Center — Dallas, Texas