|Mavericks try for 15th straight win over Lakers|
The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers hook up Saturday afternoon both feeding off some much-needed positive energy.
For clubs near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, they'll take any reason for optimism.
The Mavericks (15-28) return home to American Airlines Center off a surprising back-to-back sweep earlier this week. Dallas snapped a three-game losing streak by routing Orlando 114-99 at home Wednesday before slipping past Charlotte 115-111 the next night on the road.
"We're a resilient group," said Harrison Barnes, the team's leading scorer at 18.8 points per game. "We lost three games at home, and all three were close games. And to lose like that, it's kind of like it's devastating.
"But then to come back these last two, it feels good. So, I'm excited with the way we're playing. I think we're competing harder and we're executing better. And it's a long road ahead, but we've just got to continue taking it one game at a time."
Harrison scored 13 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter against the Hornets. Included was a stretch of nine consecutive points for Harrison, who is more often than not the focal point down the stretch.
"He's the guy that's going to be that guy," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "You know, he's going to be involved in some kind of action. He's either going to touch the ball, or he's going to be a key screener and probably touch the ball.
"Look, he's had a year and a half of this now. Last year was a good initiation for him on a team that had struggles, had injuries and a tough schedule early. He was really thrown into the fire early and learned a lot about what it's all about. But don't forget he's a former starter on a championship team, and he was a great player in college. This shouldn't surprise anybody."
The Lakers (14-27) have reeled off three wins in a row after a nine-game skid, culminating in Thursday's 93-81 home win over San Antonio behind 26 points from Brandon Ingram.
The Spurs made a concerted effort to keep Ingram out of the lane by giving the small forward the mid-range jumper. Ingram gladly accepted, knocking down 11 of 21 shots en route to his third 20 point-game in his last four starts.
"Just reading the defense, trying to be better off of instincts," Ingram said. "Whether guys are far back or too close, I can drive around them, I'm just trying to read the defense and make the best play."
The matchup also features dynamic rookie point guard Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. squaring off for the first time as pros. Ball was the second pick in the draft, with Smith picked ninth.
Dallas owns a 14-game winning against the Lakers, having swept the last four season series. It's the Mavs' longest current winning streak against any team and tied for the Lakers' longest losing streak.
The Lakers waived Vander Blue on Friday. He signed to a two-way contract Oct. 18 and appeared in five games.