Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has the chance to discuss his views on the Los Angeles Lakers' salary cap with Kobe Bryant face-to-face Sunday afternoon.
The Mavericks will host L.A. at American Airlines Arena separated by a game and a half as both teams scramble to make the playoffs in the season’s second half.
The often controversial Cuban suggested in a radio interview the Lakers may have to use the amnesty clause on the $30 million owed to Bryant in the final year of his contract. L.A. brass responded and said Cuban’s comments were uncalled for.
Unfortunately that news has overshadowed the Lakers blazing start out of the All-Star break, with two convincing wins over Boston and Portland since the death of long-time team owner Jerry Buss.
Bryant scorched the Blazers Friday night for 40 points, and center Dwight Howard scored 19 points and snagged 16 rebounds in a 111-107 victory.
Whatever reported animosity between Bryant and Howard may have dissipated after Buss’s death. Bryant practically guaranteed the 27-29 Lakers will make the playoffs, with Howard and veteran point guard Steve Nash reaffirming that bold statement.
L.A. is currently 3.5 games away from the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 seed, with Dallas right on their heels.
The Mavericks appeared to have regained their footing since Dirk Nowitzki’s return from knee surgery, and held on for a 104-100 win over the scrappy New Orleans Hornets Friday.
Nowitzki led all scorers with 25 points, and Vince Carter came off the bench to net 22 points. Dallas had trouble against Hornets guard Eric Gordon and his 23 points, and the combined 44 points off the bench from forwards Jason Smith and Ryan Anderson.
Like the Lakers, much of Dallas’ troubles could be traced to an inconsistent defense. The Mavericks are currently ranked 27th in the league, and L.A. is 23rd.
The game tips-off at 1 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by ABC.
Betting Odds: Dallas is favored by 2 points
Over/Under: 208 points
Prediction: This game should be an entertaining shootout. Nowitzki and Bryant will duel it out for top scoring honors, but Howard and Nash will be the difference in a close L.A. win.
Predicted Score: Los Angeles 104, Dallas 99