March 28, 2018, 9:47 pm
The Lakers (32-41) host the Dallas Mavericks (23-51) on Wednesday as they embark on the final stretch of their season.
Los Angeles will get a chance to rebuild some momentum as they play eight of their final nine games at Staples Center, including one road game against the Clippers. The Lakers badly need some rest – suiting up only nine players in their last game and generally looking fatigued in the second half of games during their four-game road trip. To that effect, in three of four of those games the Lakers led at the half, losing all three games.
The Lakers will get some relief on Wednesday when Brandon Ingram returns to the lineup, albeit in a restricted role. He has missed the last 12 games due to injury. Both he and Josh Hart participated in practice Tuesday – Hart is expected to return on Friday according to coach Luke Walton.
Unfortunately, the Lakers learned that they will be without the services of Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the season as he will have arthroscopic surgery on his right hip – an injury that has plagued him since last season.
On a positive note, Los Angeles will have Alex Caruso back tonight to help fill the void created by Thomas’ absence. He missed action due to concussion and limited availability during the G-League season. Now healed and free from that restriction, he will be available to provide a much needed lift off the bench.
With regard to tonight’s game, Julius Randle is the man to watch as he has absolutely destroyed the Mavericks this year with averages of 22.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists while shooting 65.1 percent from the field. Since the All-Star break he has averaged 21.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Adding to the storyline are the reports that Dallas will try to sign Randle, a Texas native, this offseason in free agency.
Another storyline will be the matchup of 2017 first-round point guards Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. Ball is coming off a tremendous game with 15 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and two steals on 7-of-8 shooting. He did a much better job attacking the paint and playing efficiently –eschewing the 3-point shot that had recently betrayed him. If he can continue to play aggressively, he will really help open up the Lakers’ halfcourt offense.
Smith Jr. tallied 19 points, one rebound and six assists in his last outing. He will be motivated to overcome the perceived slight of being drafted seven spots behind Ball in this year’s draft.
The Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention with their loss to the Pistons on Monday.
Today is coach Luke Walton’s birthday, perhaps the Lakers will win one for him.
-The Mavs have struggled on offense averaging 102.7 points per game (27th) and shooting 44.7 percent from the field (26th). The Lakers in comparison average 108.4 points per game (10th) while shooting 46.1 percent (14th) from the field.
-There is a tremendous disparity between the two teams in turnovers per game with the Lakers committing 15.7 miscues per game (28th) vs. a league best 12.4 turnovers per game for the Mavs.
-Despite a vast difference between the records for the two teams, they share some statistical similarities. The Mavs have a net rating of minus-2.8 (22nd) and offensive rating of 104.6 (20th) while the Lakers have a season-long net rating of minus-1.5 (21st) and an offensive rating of 104.2 (21st).
-The main difference between the teams is on defense where the Lakers have a 105.7 defensive rating (13th) while averaging 7.8 steals per game (13th) and 4.8 blocks per game (15th). Dallas does not excel in any of these categories with a defensive rating of 107.4 (19th), 7.1 steals per game (24th) and 3.8 blocks per game (29th).
Projected Starting Lineups
Lonzo Ball (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Kyle Kuzma (SF)
Julius Randle (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
Dennis Smith Jr. (PG)
Aaron Harrison (SG)
Harrison Barnes (SF)
Max Kleber (PF)
Dirk Nowitzki (C)
Brandon Ingram (groin) – ACTIVE, MINUTES RESTRICTION
Isaiah Thomas (hip) – OUT
Josh Hart (finger) – OUT
Alex Caruso (concussion) – AVAILABLE
Brook Lopez (back) – PROBABALE
Kyle Kuzma (ankle) – PROBABLE
J.J. Barea (personal) – OUT
Dirk Nowitzki (knee) – QUESTIONABLE
Wesley Matthews (leg) – OUT
Seth Curry (leg) – OUT
Dwight Powell (knee) – QUESTIONABLE
Time: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 PM EST
Television: SPECSN/SPECD, FSSW, NBA TV CANADA
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, ESPN 103.3 FM, 1270 AM (ESP)