Los Angeles Lakers host Dallas Mavericks, set sights on strong finish

By Dan Arritt, The Sports Xchange  |  March 28, 2018 at 10:25 AM
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Now that the Los Angeles Lakers are officially eliminated from postseason play, they'll try to wrap up the final two weeks on a positive note.

After losing five of six on the road, the Lakers return home to play seven of their final nine games at Staples Center beginning Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Lakers (32-41) lost at the Detroit Pistons 112-106 on Monday night and were eliminated from the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

In recent games, Los Angeles has been unable to put together two good halves. The Lakers led at halftime in three of their past four games, but lost all three.

"I think we're really just frustrating ourselves," Lakers center Brook Lopez told the Southern California News Group. "I know I am. We feel as a team we definitely can be better. They're very winnable games, [with] all respect to the teams we played, we feel a lot of it's on us."

The Mavericks (23-51) ended a five-game losing streak with a 103-97 victory at the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. The game was played before a sparse crowd because protests over a local police shooting prevented many fans from entering Golden 1 Center.

Dallas' Harrison Barnes is having his best month of the season, averaging 21.2 points. He's 13 for 24 from beyond the arc in the past three games.

Dallas has been getting good play of late from Doug McDermott. The 6-foot-8 forward, who the Mavericks acquired in a trade with the New York Knicks last month, is 6 for 9 from 3-point range in the past two games.

"He's moving great and guys are finding him," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "His cutting off the ball has been great."

Los Angeles has been severely short-handed, but help could be on the way.

Leading scorer Brandon Ingram has been cleared for contact after missing the past 12 games with a groin injury. He played three-on-three at practice Tuesday with no setbacks. He's listed as questionable against the Mavericks.

Lakers back-up point guard Isaiah Thomas will miss his third straight game with a nagging hip injury that dates to the end of last season with the Boston Celtics. Josh Hart, another guard who has been in and out of the starting lineup, is close to coming back from hand surgery performed March 2, but his return won't come until Friday against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks at the earliest.

The Lakers had only nine available players when they beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night, but added guard Gary Payton II and forward Thomas Bryant from the South Bay Lakers of the G-League. Forward Channing Frye played against the Pistons, his first action since undergoing an appendectomy over the All-Star break.

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball was in a shooting slump for seven straight games before making 7-of-8 shots and scoring 15 points against the Pistons. He has finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double in the past two games.

"I don't like looking at stats," Ball said. "I go out there and focus on the score."

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