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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks take on the Lakers

Dallas looks for their second victory against the West’s top team.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a 141 point detonation against the Golden State Warriors, the Mavericks take their 12-3 road record to the Staples Center to take on the suddenly struggling Los Angeles Lakers. After winning 24 of the first 27 games, the Lakers lost four straight going into Saturday’s tilt with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Mavericks and Lakers have split the two meetings this season, though Dallas was one offensive foul call away from winning the first matchup. As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Kristaps Porzingis will play on the tail end of the back-to-back, so the Mavericks could be without their sharp-shooting big man. For the Lakers, LeBron James is nursing a groin injury, but he suited up against the Trail Blazers.

Here’s what to watch for Sunday night:

Slowing down Anthony Davis

In two games versus the Mavericks this year Davis has had his way with the Dallas big men to the tune of 29 points and nine rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the field. Dwight Powell is ill-equipped to guard Davis and the Mavericks wont intenionally have Kristaps Porzingis bang around with the Lakers’ star which leaves Maxi Kleber as the lone capable defender against the six-time all star.

With his agility and shot-blocking prowess, Kleber should get a healthy dose of Davis, but the Mavericks might opt to play quite a bit of zone to counter Davis’ offensive chops. The Lakers only shoot 31 threes per game and connect on 35 percent, which is just below league average.

Battle of the benches

With both teams playing Saturday night, bench play becomes of supreme importance. Coming into Saturday the Mavericks’ bench contribute 42.5 points per game while the Lakers’ reserves add 34.8 points per game. Dallas will have to be aware of Kyle Kuzma, who can pop off for 20 points any given night, and keep Dwight Howard’s activity on the glass at bay. On offense, the Mavericks will likely need one of Seth Curry, Jalen Brunson or Delon Wright to lead the charge if they want to outpace their second unit counterparts. In Dallas’ victory against Los Angles the bench scored 43 points compared to only 38 in the loss.

The three-point blitz

Dallas is coming off a historic three-point shooting barrage where they rained triples against the Warriors. In the last win against the Lakers, Dallas hit 17 threes compared to only seven for Los Angeles. The Lakers aren’t equipped to blow the Mavericks out of the water from behind the arc, but Dallas needs the three-point shot to travel to steal a road win on the second night of a back-to-back.

How to watch

The game tips at 8:30 CT and will be nationally televised on ESPN.