Lakers prepare for a tough week that includes challenging trip
This will be a week when the Lakers will be tested by a quartet of worthy opponents.
First the Lakers will focus on playing the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on Sunday before going on the road to meet the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers know they must lock in against the Mavericks because of how well they play on offense.
Dallas phenom Luka Doncic is third in the NBA in scoring (30.8 points per game), second in assists (9.6) and first in triple-doubles (7).
The Mavericks are fourth in the league in scoring at 118 points a game, have won seven of their last 10 games and are fourth in the Western Conference at with a record of 12-6.
“You gotta look at it game by game,” Anthony Davis said after a short practice Saturday. “When you start looking too far ahead, or you start overthinking opponents, thinking you can go and get wins and stuff like that, those are the teams that come out and blow you out. We take it game by game, and try to stay in the moment. Our next opponent is Dallas tomorrow. We focus on them, and then we go on the road and focus on the other opponents.”
The Lakers, an NBA-best 17-2, will encounter more challenges at some of the toughest venues to play in the Western Conference.
The Lakers play Tuesday at Denver, a team with the second-best record (13-4) in the West. The Nuggets give up a league-low 101.9 points per game and have five players averaging in double figures, led by Jamal Murray (18.8) and Nikola Jokic (16.1).
The next night the Lakers play at Utah (12-7). The Jazz give up only 103.9 points per game, the seventh-lowest in the league. Utah has four players averaging double figures, led by Donovan Mitchell (25.3) and Bojan Bogdanovic (22.1).
The Lakers are 3-2 against teams .500 or better and 14-0 against teams with losing records. Regardless, they’ve showed the focus needed to compete each game.
The Lakers finish their trip Friday at Portland, which is 8-12 but has won three consecutive games. The Trail Blazers’ high-scoring backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum has gotten more offensive help after the signing of Carmelo Anthony.
The Lakers have a 10-game winning streak and just finished November with a 14-1 record. The road the Lakers travel in December will present them more difficulty.
“Each challenge is a new one, a fun one, and each team is different, so we don’t look at who’s ahead, who’s the next person next week,” Danny Green said Saturday. “We got Dallas tomorrow and that’s our main focus. That’s the biggest game of the year for us. So we want to get better and take on that challenge, because they’re scoring the ball greatly. And then we’ll focus on the next team after that.
“Each challenge is fun, whether it’s East or West, and we’re enjoying the process and trying to grow and progress as a team. We’re worried about ourselves more so than the opponent.”
The Lakers said guard Avery Bradley (hairline fracture right leg) saw a doctor Saturday and was cleared to begin basketball progression. Bradley won’t play Sunday against Dallas or during the upcoming three-game trip. He will be re-evaluated again next weekend.
Kyle Kuzma didn’t practice Saturday because of a mild left ankle sprain and is questionable for the Mavericks game.
When: 1 p.m., Sunday.
On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330.
Update: The Lakers are tied for first in the NBA in field-goal percentage, making 48.3% of their shots, while the Mavericks are ninth (46.3%). LeBron James leads the league in assists (11.0) and the Lakers are fourth in assists (26.6).
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