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Setting the Table for Mavericks versus Lakers

The last time the Mavericks had a seven-game losing streak was from February 9, 1999 to February 19, 1999.  That was the NBA's strike-shortened season.  It was also the rookie year for Dirk Nowitzki and the first year Steve Nash was on the Mavericks.  The team finished that year with a 19-31 record.  It won't be an easy challenge to avoid their seventh straight loss as they go up against the Los Angeles Lakers"They’re two-time champions now, they’re big, they’re strong and Bryant is a great player," Coach Rick Carlisle said.  "You’ve got to look at (Pau) Gasol now as a legitimate really great player in this league.  They’re deep and they shoot the three well, they have the right compliments to their really good players.  So, they’re always tough to play."  

It is all about perspective.  Despite the six-game losing streak, the Mavericks have the exact same record as they did last season at this point, 26-14.  Last season, the Mavericks were 27-14 at the halfway point of the season.  The Lakers will be finishing a stretch of three games in four nights.  They played a back-to-back against the Clippers on Sunday (loss) and Oklahoma City on Monday (win). 

The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers make their first visit of the season to the American Airlines Center on Wednesday evening.  The Lakers have won eight of the last 10 meetings with the Mavericks, but the Mavericks took the most recent meeting in Dallas on February 24, 2010.  The Mavericks will be looking to continue making use of the home cooking as they have defeated the Lakers five out of their last eight times on their home floor.  The Lakers had won three straight at American Airlines Center before the Mavericks took the final game of last year’s season series. 

Over the six-game losing streak, the Mavericks have averaged just 89.9 points and shot 44.1% from the field.  Opponents have averaged 101.8 points and shot 48.7% from the field against the Mavericks.  To further show the shooing woes, Dallas manged just 18 first quarter points in the loss at Detroit on January 17.  It marked the third straight game they recorded fewer than 20 points in the opening period and they fell to 1-6 on the year when they fail to score 20 points in the first.  Detroit also shot 57.5% from the field in that game against the Mavericks.  The Pistons became just the third team to shoot at least 50% from the floor against the Mavericks this season, but the second team to do so in the last five games.  The Orlando Magic (51.9%) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (50.6%) are the other two teams.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one team has gone as long as the Mavericks since its last six-game losing streak.  You guessed it; the San Antonio Spurs have no lost six consecutive games since March 10, 1997 to March 20, 1997.

With the Lakers, it always comes down to how the Mavericks can defend Kobe Bryant.  They have had a fair amount of success as of late as Bryant is averaging 16.3 points and has scored 20 or less in the last four contests against Dallas, with the teams splitting those meetings.  Something will definitely have to give as over his 12 most recent games, Bryant's shooting percentage has been locked in at 49.3%.  He has averaged 25.1 points a night on only 18.41 shots a game, all while 4.83 assists.  Only twice has he shot worse than 45.5 percent from the floor.   That the Lakers are 10-2 in these games shouldn't come as a shock.  "He is as good as there is in this league right now; I think we all know that," said Carlisle.  "Taking that challenge as a team is what it is all about."

Donnie Nelson was a spectator again during Mavericks shootaround on Wednesday.  He mentioned that calls are being made but not as many as you think.   Nelson mentioned that it’s just banter right now, "the bigger stuff happens later."

They are still trying to evaluate the team post Butler-injury, but that remains a challenge as the pieces are not giving you a good scope to work with.  "It's been hard to figure out what our hand looks like when you're banged up like we are.  We've got certain guys that aren't play well right now," Nelson said.  "Once that settles down a little bit, we'll have a better understanding of where we are and what the future holds." 

Roddy Beaubois is still a part of that future and Nelson said that Roddy is still progressing well and when the green light is given, Beaubois will be on the court.  Nelson did refer to the electric guard as "The Future of the Franchise."  He said that but he also has perspective with Beaubois.  "Look, Roddy is a sophomore, sophomores make mistakes," Nelson said.  "He’s got a big upside and a big future.  He provides us some athletic punch, but it’s not like he’s going to show up in a white cape and turn everything around."

The big news yesterday was Caron Butler's assessment that he feels that could be ready to come back during the playoffs.  Nelson does not want to put that kind of pressure on Butler.  "I would not want to put that kind of pressure on him," Nelson said when talking about Butler's potential return.  "Again, when you are talking about an injury of that nature and that status, you've got the franchises' best  interest as well as the player's best interest.  If that happens so be it but if not, we are prepared to go with what we've got."

He also added, "or what we get."