Preview: Kobe Bryant to face Dirk Nowitzki for final matchup

Kobe Bryant will play his final game against Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers (9-37) have already lost twice to the Mavericks (25-21) this season.  Bryant will retire after the Lakers wrap the regular season in June, with playoffs all but out of reach.

Dallas is in sixth place, struggling a bit recently with a variety of injuries.  Zaza Pachulia (leg), Devin Harris (toe) and Jeremy Evans (shoulder) have all been hindered lately but may be available against the Lakers.

Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. is expected back from a sore knee.  Brandon Bass (foot) sat out practice on Monday but is likely to play as well.  Ryan Kelly was hit with a stomach ailment on Monday.

Key matchup

While Bryant at small forward and Nowitzki at the four are unlikely to match up often against each other, the two are among the bests of their generations.

Bryant is in his 20th season, the winner of five NBA titles and one league most valuable player award.  The Mavericks acquired Nowitzki in a draft-day deal with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1998.

Nowitzki, the ninth overall pick, went on to win an NBA championship in 2011.  He also won the league MVP award for the 2006-7 season.

On the season, the 37-year old Nowitzki is averaging 17.7 points a game, while shooting 45.0% from the field and 40.0% from three-point range.

Bryant, also 37, is scoring 15.8 point a night while shooting a career-worst 34.7% from the field.  He's also hitting 24.9% from three-point range.

X-factor

The Mavericks have a long list of productive guards including Deron Williams (14.2 points and 5.6 assists a game), J.J. Barea (9.3 and 4.0%), Raymond Felton (9.3 and 3.4) and Harris (7.4 and 2.1).

Additionally, the Lakers need to deal with Chandler Parsons, Wesley Matthews and Zaza Pachulia.

Nance will probably return to the starting lineup, moving Julius Randle back to the bench.  Nance is the better defender and more-efficient scorer — but Randle is stronger and still has tremendous potential to grow into a high-impact player.

Defensively, the Lakers guard core of Jordan Clarkson, D'Angelo Russell and Lou Williams needs to slow the more-experienced Mavericks backcourt.

Outlook

The Mavericks have a well-coached, experienced roster.  The Lakers, losers of six straight, should be able to compete on Tuesday, but don't expect a win.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
78°