Time probably is going to run out before the Los Angeles Lakers
catch San Antonio for best record in the Western Conference
But make no mistake that the two-time defending world champion Lakers are coming on strong.
The Lakers have won 15 of 16 games since the All-Star break, just the fifth team since 1951 to achieve that distinction. The hot steak has boosted Los Angeles into owning the second-best record in the West, one game better than Dallas at 53-20. The Mavericks are 52-21.
The Lakers host Dallas Thursday night at 7:35 PT with live coverage on TNT.
Miami is the only team to defeat the Lakers during the last five weeks. Los Angeles went into the all-star weekend having lost three in a row, including road defeats to Cleveland and Charlotte.
Los Angeles trails San Antonio by four games in the race for home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. The Lakers have nine games left.
Dallas is the best road team in the NBA at 26-10. The Mavericks have covered in 11 of their last 16 away contests going into their Wednesday matchup at the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Mavericks will be playing their fourth road game in six days when they meet the Lakers, although it will be their second night in a row at Staples Center. That’s because the Lakers and Clippers play their home games at Staples Center.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have been idle since this past Sunday when they defeated New Orleans, 102-84, as nine-point home favorites. The combined 186 points just dipped ‘under’ the 188 ½-point total.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol had big games for the Lakers. Bryant scored 30 points while Gasol had 23 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.
It was the Lakers’ seventh victory in their past eight games. Pointspread-wise, though, the Lakers are just 3-5 ATS during this span.
The Lakers also are a money-blowing 14-22 (38 percent) ATS in their home games this season. Dallas is 23-13 (63 percent) ATS on the road.
Dallas has two more away games following this matchup as it concludes a season-high six-game road trip. The Mavericks are at Golden State on Saturday followed by a Sunday game at Portland.
The Mavericks and Lakers have split two games this season. Dallas captured the first meeting on Jan. 19, winning 109-100 as a three-point home ‘dog. The combined 209 points sailed ‘over’ the 188 ½-point total.
Dallas won despite a sub-par 14 points from Dirk Nowitzki, the 10th-leading scorer in the league at 23.2 points per game.
The Lakers gained revenge, 96-91, on March 12 as one-point road favorites. The combined 187 points went ‘under’ the 194-point total.
Center Andrew Bynum stepped up for the Lakers in that matchup with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Gasol had 18 points.
But Bryant, who ranks sixth in scoring in the NBA averaging 25.2 points a game, finished with just 14 points on six-of-20 shooting from the floor and missed some of the game after suffering a sprained ankle. His ankle still may not be 100 percent since then.
The Lakers have defeated the Mavericks five of the past six times they’ve hosted them.
Los Angeles travels to Salt Lake City to face Utah on Friday. The Lakers then return to Staples Center to host Denver on Sunday and the Jazz on Tuesday.
The ‘over’ has cashed in 11 of Dallas’ last 16 road matchups. The Mavericks had played five consecutive ‘unders,’ though, through this past Tuesday.
The ‘under’ has cashed in nine of the Lakers’ last 13 games.