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3 things as the Mavericks return to action against the Lakers

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It’s been a long, bad week, but basketball is back.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being on a week-long All-Star break, the Dallas Mavericks stayed in the news, but for all the wrong reasons, as Sports Illustrated broke the story about the Mavericks’ extremely toxic work environment. We have covered these revelations extensively, and you can find all of the reaction pieces by visiting our homepage.

This is far from the end of the discussion on this, but we’re still looking forward to the return of basketball tonight as the Mavs take on the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. A game can’t fix all the damage that has been caused this week, but we can still watch and enjoy Dirk Nowitzki again (something we don’t have many more opportunities to do), and we can watch Smith Jr. continue to develop and grow towards being the next leader of the franchise.

Here are three other reasons to watch tonight.

Apparently Julius Randle is still playing basketball

And that’s incredible, given that I thought Randle died at the hands of Maxi Kleber the last time these two teams met.

In all seriousness though, Randle is pretty good. Despite having his soul briefly dunked out of him, Randle finished that game with 26 points (10-14 shooting), eight rebounds and seven assists. There was a lot of speculation before the trade deadline that involved the Mavs’ interest in Randle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his name comes up again this summer as a potential target in restricted free agency.

Dennis Smith Jr. vs. Lonzo Ball — part two

Ball didn’t play in the last game between the Lakers and the Mavs due to a knee injury. However, he will return tonight to take on his fellow rookie point guard, Smith Jr., for the second time this season. Here are the stat lines from their fist meeting:

Smith Jr. — 23 points (8-of-19 shooting), three assists, two rebounds and five turnovers (loss)

Ball — nine points (4-of-13 shooting), seven assists, seven rebounds and zero turnovers (win)

Smith Jr. definitely won the scoring battle, but lost in every other category. That particular matchup went into overtime, and the Lakers came away with a 107-101 victory. It’ll be fun to see these guys go at it again.

If the season series tells us anything, this game should be fun

The first matchup between these teams was a thriller that went into overtime. The second time they played, almost two weeks ago, both teams shot the lights out as the Mavs came away with a 130-123 win in Dallas (and yes, that was the final score in regulation). It was an incredible offensive display from both teams and arguably the most fun game of the Mavs’ disappointing season thus far. Hopefully tonight’s game can be just as fun.

How to watch

The Mavs and Lakers will tipoff at 9:30 p.m. Central. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN and can also be watched on FSSW.