Los Angeles Lakers at Mavericks
(8:30 p.m. Thursday, American Airlines Center, Dallas)
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM (Univision 1270 AM, Spanish)
About the Mavericks (31-26): They woke up Thursday just a half-game behind Portland for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, which is stunning considering that the Mavericks have lost five of their last eight games . . . The sad reality is that they were a sprawling buzzer beater by Luka Dončić away from being on a five-game losing streak before they got things turned around with a win over Detroit on Wednesday at AAC . . . And while there is no travel involved, this still is the second half of back-to-back games, something that has not been kind to the Mavericks this season. They are only 4-7 on the second night of back-to-backs . . . The Mavericks may also have some injury issues to deal with. Maxi Kleber took a charge and came down hard on his back. He had X-rays, which were negative according to coach Rick Carlisle. But the bruise he suffered was nasty and the 6-10 forward/center will be re-evaluated Wednesday . . . The best news is that they took care of business against Detroit on Wednesday, when Luka had 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists . . . The Mavericks did not extend the minutes of Dončić or Kristaps Porzingis against the Pistons. Carlisle had this to say about whether Porzingis would play on the second night of the back-to-back: “We’re trying to win as many games as we can, obviously. I’m encouraged by moderate minutes tonight. I think he and Luka both played 33, which is not a huge amount. But it’s really more about how he’s feeling. We wouldn’t make decisions on whether to play guys if there was any evidence that it would compromise them physically. I’m hopeful that he’ll be good for tomorrow, but I wouldn’t make any assumptions at this point.”
About the Lakers (35-23): They have been on an interesting run for nearly a month. They have won every other game they’ve played since March 28, going 6-6 during that stretch. Since they lost against Utah on Monday, it’s bad news for the Mavericks if the Lakers’ trend continues . . . The most recent games in that run were against Utah in LA, which the Lakers managed to split . . . They have been able to tread water in spite of major injury problems. LeBron James remains out with an ankle sprain. Anthony Davis is close to returning from an Achilles issue. He said on Wednesday that he expects to play in Thursday’s game unless there are unforeseen complications . . . Even without their two superstars, the Lakers have remained the No. 1-ranked team in defensive rating and they are No. 2 in fewest points allowed at 106.1 . . . Even without James and Davis, they have abundant talent with Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and newcomer Andre Drummond, who has averaged 12.8 points and 10.2 rebounds over the last six games . . . Of course, his presence has meant a reduced role for Marc Gasol, who has had his share of big games against the Mavericks in the past . . . The Lakers are starting a four-game trip that will lead them to Orlando and Washington after the two games in Dallas.
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