The Lakers (3-9) are undefeated two games into a three-game trip with wins against the Atlanta Hawks (5-5) and Houston Rockets (9-3).
Nick Young has been the catalyst, rejoining the team for the two wins, after sitting out the start of the season with a thumb injury. The Lakers are also expected to have Wayne Ellington back, following a leave of absence to deal with the fatal shooting of his father.
The Lakers will have a difficult challenge Friday, visiting the Dallas Mavericks (9-3). The Mavericks are averaging a league's best 108.9 points a game, beating opponents by the NBA's largest margin (10.4 a game).
Dallas is expecting to get Devin Harris back from a leg injury but will play without Raymond Felton, suspended for a guilty plea to a gun charge.
The Lakers will be without Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg).
Through 12 games, Monta Ellis is the Mavericks' leading scorers at 19.7 points a game.
The 6-foot-3 guard is always looking to attack, which can be a problem for the Lakers given how many other Mavericks can score -- including star Dirk Nowitzki (19.1 points a game) and newcomer Chandler Parsons (14.0)
Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson, Ronnie Price, Young and Ellington may all get turns defensively on Ellis over the course of the game.
Bryant (6-foot-6) has the height advantage over Ellis, but isn't as quick. The Mavericks spread the floor exceptionally well -- whoever is guarding Ellis won't have much help, if beat off the dribble.
The Lakers need to continue to get points from Bryant (27.5 a game) and Young (16.5) -- but if the Lakers are to get an upset, it will be because of a tremendous defensive effort.
The Lakers always seemed to have a difficult time against Parsons when he was with Houston, where he spent his first three seasons. With his new squad, Parsons is shooting 40.1% from the field and 34.8% from three-point range.
Nowitzki is another problem, shooting 53.1% and 46.9%, respectively. He's still a deadly threat to score with the game on the line.
The Mavericks brought back defensive center Tyson Chandler and spark plug scorer of the bench, J.J. Barea. Brandon Wright is shooting an absurd 76.1% from the field for 10.1 average points a night.
The Lakers are a more dynamic squad when Jeremy Lin is both scoring and facilitating, along with big men Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Carlos Boozer.
Dallas is a true team. The Lakers have shown some signs os strength over the last few games, but Friday will take their best effort.
The Lakers have impressed, after a miserable start, by winning in Atlanta and Houston. The Rockets were without center Dwight Howard (knee), which evened the scales a bit.
A win over the Mavericks would be stunning victory for the Lakers.