The Lakers (1-7) wrap their five-game road trip on Friday, visiting the Dallas Mavericks (4-4).
Dallas already has one win over the Lakers, a 103-93 victory at Staples Center on Nov. 1.
The Lakers have lost three straight and may not have Kobe Bryant available as he tries to overcome a back injury that knocked him out the last two games. He’s also dealing with a stomach issue and is considered questionable by the team.
The Mavericks aren’t likely to have JaVale McGee, who is questionable with a leg injury. Forward Chandler Parsons is still on a limited-minutes restriction after offseason knee surgery.
Julius Randle gave a career-best performance in the Lakers’ first meeting against the Mavericks, scoring 22 points with 15 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Dallas has a capable team but is not especially strong defensively at power forward. The Mavericks got a big performance from center Zaza Pachulia with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lakers need to do a better job defensively inside as well with Roy Hibbert, Randle and the team’s bench. The Lakers need another big night from Randle, and they need to find a way to slow Dirk Nowitzki -- a scorer who has been a problem for the rest of NBA for most of Randle’s life.
Rookie guard D’Angelo Russell has improved in recent games. Against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, Russell was as aggressive as he’s been all season, scoring 14 points with three assists and six rebounds.
Defensively, Russell has shown ability but is also finding himself getting lost on key possessions. As he matures, he should continue to improve -- but that may not help on Friday when the Lakers face the Dallas cadre of veteran guards.
From backcourt starters Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews, to reserves Raymond Felton, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, the Mavericks have an experienced core of players.
The Lakers’ youth has been exposed thus far this season, and although the talent is there, until the players mature, they’re going to be taken advantage of by savvier vets.
The Lakers have played well in recent games but have yet to put enough together to get more than a single win. The Mavericks have too many experienced veterans, put the home down for the victory.