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Mavericks vs. Lakers preview: is LA heating up?

The Lakers are off to an abysmal 3-9 start, but they have won their last two games.

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

What did Los Angeles do over the summer?

There's a really interesting article by Tom Ziller which asks the question: are the Lakers secretly tanking? It's an interesting thought. Regardless of whether or not they're tanking, the Lakers are off to a terrible start, and it's largely due to their inactivity in the offseason.

However, they did hire a new coach this offseason, bringing in former Cavaliers coach Byron Scott to lead this rag tag bunch.

Personnel-wise, L.A. added former Kentucky monster Julius Randle through the NBA Draft, but he went down with a gruesome injury, breaking his leg in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' first game of the season. Beyond Randle, the Lakers went out and claimed Carlos Boozer off of the amnesty wire, resigned Wesley Johnson and traded for Jeremy Lin.

The Lakers received some bad news before the season started, when they discovered that veteran point guard Steve Nash would not be playing this season, due to back injuries. This has forced Lin into the starting role, where he's averaged 11 points and 5 assists per game.

What has Los Angeles done lately?

For starters, they've won their last two games. The Lakers knocked of Atlanta on Tuesday, then came back the next night and beat Houston (sure the Rockets were without Dwight Howard, but hey, a win is a win). Kobe Bryant has averaged 33.6 points per game over the last three, and Carlos Boozer has had back-to-back double-doubles. It seems like Kobe and Boozer are starting to develop a chemistry, and that could turn the Lakers' season around in a quick minute.

Another reason for the Lakers' ability to string a few wins together? The return of Nick Young, a.k.a. Swaggy P., a.k.a. Iggy's bae, who's averaging 16.5 points in his first two games back from a thumb injury.

Who wants to rebound? No one? Ok then.

The  Lakers and Mavs are both in the bottom third in the league in rebounding, and both teams only have one player averaging more than nine boards per game, Jordan Hill (9.7) and Tyson Chandler (10.8). The Mavs are also 27th in the league in opposing offensive rebounds allowed, giving up over 12 per game. Eliminating second chance points will be key in beating the Lakers.

What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Lakers?

Well, it starts with rebounding. The Mavs need to eliminate second chance opportunities for the Lakers and dominate on the boards. Dallas wants to extend the winning streak to six, and that, plus their ever-efficient offense, can make it happen.

This is the Lakers' third game on the road, and they're probably getting tired. The Mavs need to attack on offense and overwhelm this less-than-talented Lakers bunch. The Mavericks defense has steadily been improving as well, and this game will be a good test to see if it can continue to improve. Kobe might get his, but that alone probably won't be enough to beat Dallas. The Mavs will need to slow down Boozer, and the likes of Jordan Hill and Nick Young.


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