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Four-Pointer: Previewing the Los Angeles Lakers

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Kendall Marshall has emerged as the latest player that Laker Nation can place an ounce of hope in until their injured star returns.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Lakers done lately?

Well, they have lost a lot. In fact, they have lost seven of their last eight games. And, for the most part, they have been rather one sided affairs. Only three of the teams they faced during this stretch have records above .500 and their sole victory came against the Utah Jazz. It hasn't been pretty.

Beyond the losing, the Lakers had been rumored, before last night obviously, to be involved in a potential deal that would send Pau Gasol to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum. Yup. Can't make this stuff up.

What player, stat or fact might surprise you about the Lakers?

I think I would be remiss in my duties here at Moneyball if I mentioned a player other than Kendall Marshall here. Marshall entered the Lakers' rotation four games ago and has started the last two. His standout game, the only one that the Lakers have won, came against the Utah Jazz. In his first start, Marshall poured in 20 points on 8-12 shooting, including 2-3 from downtown. He also dished out 15 assists and six rebounds.

The following game, against the Denver Nuggets, Marshall's shooting touch cooled off as he went 3-10 from the floor and 1-5 from behind the arc. However, he did total 17 dimes.

That is quite a debut in his first two games starting for the Lakers.

Which team stat might determine the game?

Any defensive stat. It doesn't matter which one. Neither the Lakers nor Mavericks play defense. If either of these teams play an iota of defense they stand a chance at winning the game. The thing is, there will likely not be any defense. None. So gun away, fellas!

Kobe Bryant.

Okay, so that isn't a question, obviously. But the Lakers are simply not the same without their star player who is out again with another injury, this time with a left tibial plateau fracture. Medical terminology, am I right? Nonetheless, it will be the second time this season that the Lakers square off against the Mavs without the Mamba taking the floor. Kobe's absence is more than just an injury, though. He is one of the few players in the history of the league that has embodied a generation of the game. Obviously, there are new stars coming to the forefront, which Bryant urges people to vote for in All-Star game balloting. Yet, it is jarring when players we grew up watching, perhaps even idolizing, start succumbing to age and the toll that the game takes on their bodies. It is, of course, inevitable. But it takes its toll on teams and fans. Change is a constant, accepting it is something different. Kobe's absence reminds us of that. His days in the league are growing limited and there are precious few opportunities to see the man play in person. Hopefully he will return soon so that fans across the country can attend a game and see one of the greatest players to ever take the court in person. Until then, all we can do is wait.