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3 keys to beating the Los Angeles Lakers

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The Mavericks try to end a two-game losing streak in Los Angeles.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks made the front pages with their recent brouhaha with the Rockets and will get a chance to stay there with a strong showing tonight on national television.

The Lakers started the year strong. They peaked at 10-10, despite losing to Dallas on November 8, but the team has completely hit the wall, going 2-13 in December. Here are the keys for the Mavericks as they look to rebound from the Houston game and keep the baby Lakers in their growing pains.

Hold the Lakers to under 100 points

It’s nice when you can draw lazy simple conclusions. Look at the points the Mavericks have allowed the last few games along with the outcome:

vs HOU, allowed 123, LOSS

@NO, allowed 111, LOSS

@LAC, allowed 88, WIN

@POR, allowed 95, WIN

@DEN, allowed 117, LOSS

vs SAC, allowed 79, WIN

@ UTA, allowed 103, LOSS

I’m not guaranteeing the Mavericks will win if they hold their opponents under 100 points, but do I have (recent) history on my side or what?

Contain the Lakers backcourt

The Lakers have some talent in their frontcourt with Julius Randle and Luol Deng, but their backcourt mix of youth and streaky-shooting veterans is what keeps them in games. In fact, their top four scorers are their top four backcourt players. In order, they are Lou Williams (18.8 PPG), D’Angelo Russell (14.5), Jordan Clarkson (14.3) and Nick Young (14.1).

Somehow, all four guards see their points-per-game averages go up at home in Staples, so getting some good switches and close outs from Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams and Seth Curry will be critical, especially on Lou Williams (you can read about his pick and roll expertise here).

Get Deron Williams going

The return of Deron Williams has seen the Mavericks moving the ball around a lot better with Williams averaging 7.9 assists per game (the Mavericks as a team have averages 20.9 in December). In November, when Williams only played six games and averaged 4.8 APG, the Mavericks’ were down three assists overall as well (17.9 APG).

The Mavericks’ shooting has benefited as a result of their improved passing. In November, the Mavericks’ had a 40.9 percent field goal percentage and were shooting 30.8 percent from deep. In December, the team has shot 44.8 percent and 37.3 percent respectively.

The Mavericks, led by Williams, will need to keep the rock moving to get open shots, avoid giving up easy transition buckets and help set up their set defenses.

How to watch

The game is on the West Coast, so prepare to stay up late. It airs on TNT at 9:30 p.m. CST.