NBA Game of the Week Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers: Fan’s Take

NBA Game of the Week for the Week of January 16-January 22

After starting the season with three straight losses, the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks have finally begun to show some championship moxie. The Mavericks head into their Martin Luther King, Jr. day matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers riding a five-game winning streak.

The Lakers had their own five-game winning streak snapped by the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, January 14. Kobe Bryant, who has scored 40 or more points in four consecutive games, and the Lakers hope to rebound from that loss and earn their ninth straight home victory when the Mavericks visit the Staples Center in this week's NBA Game of the Week.

In the second round of the 2011 Western Conference Playoffs, when these two teams last met, Dallas swept Los Angeles in four straight games. The Mavericks closed the series by simply massacring the Lakers, 122-86, in Game 4. The new Maverick on the block, Lamar Odom, who was a Laker at the time, was ejected from that game after committing a flagrant foul 2 against Dirk Nowitzki.

(All statistics and records are through January 15)

Monday, January 16, Dallas Mavericks (8-5) at Los Angeles Lakers (9-5), 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Odom, who will be making his first appearance at the Staples Center since he was traded from the Lakers to the Mavericks, has struggled to adapt to his new surroundings in Dallas. He is averaging just 20 minutes a game and has scored more than 10 points just once this season. For his career, Odom averages 35.3 minutes and 14.5 points. Maybe a return to this familiar place, against his former team will spark Odom into a more Lamar-like performance.

In addition to having the real Lamar Odom stand up, the Mavericks will also have to find a way to slow down the hot-shooting Kobe Bryant (50.4 percent from the floor, 38.9 percent from three and 89.6 percent from the free-throw line over his last four games) if they want to win their sixth straight game.

During their current five-game winning streak, Dallas has held their opponents to just 77.6 points per game and has given up more than 85 points just once. If the Mavericks can have this type of defensive performance against Bryant and the Lakers, they will give themselves a great opportunity to keep their winning streak alive.

Defensively, Los Angeles has been solid all year. The Lakers currently rank amongst the league leaders in points allowed (fifth at 90.8), field goal percentage allowed (third at 41.3 percent) and rebounding differential (second at 5.8).

In their loss to the Clippers Saturday night, the Lakers did a decent job of forcing the Clippers to miss shots and held them to 41.2 percent shooting from the field. However, the Clippers were still able to score 102 points in the game because they outrebounded the Lakers 50-42 and grabbed a whopping 16 offensive boards. The Lakers also allowed the Clippers to make 42.9 percent (9 of 21) of their three-point attempts.

If the Lakers want to extend their home winning streak to nine games, they will have to re-establish their dominance on the boards against a Dallas Mavericks team that allows just as many rebounds as it grabs. And considering that the Lakers are dead last in the NBA in three-point shooting accuracy (25.7 percent), Los Angeles will have to do a much better job of defending the three-point line than they did against the Clippers.

Defense will be the key to this game. The team that finishes off their defensive possessions with rebounds will likely be the team that comes away victorious.

Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has more than 100 articles about the NBA published on the internet. Mark also shares his random NBA musings on RandomNBAFan.com.

More on the 2011-2012 NBA Schedule:

2012 Martin Luther King Day NBA Schedule

2011-2012 Lockout-shortened NBA Schedule: Fan's Outlook

Information from ESPN.com's NBA Schedule, NBA Regular Season Standings, Lamar Odom Stats, Kobe Bryant Stats, 2011-12 Regular Season NBA Team Stats, and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers—Box Score—January 14, 2012 was used for this article.

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Updated Monday, Jan 16, 2012