Going into the season, Lakers' owner Jerry Buss said that this might be the best Lakers team he's ever seen.

On paper, it sure seemed true. The Lakers were coming off back-to-back titles, had young center Andrew Bynum set to return from knee surgery, and added two key bench players to their already stellar starting lineup with forward Matt Barnes and guard Steve Blake.

As the season progressed, some players regressed. Ron Artest didn't look himself in December and January. The Lakers were getting limited production from point guards Derek Fisher and Blake.

Meanwhile, Matt Barnes got injured and Bynum was slow to recover from his knee injury.

At the All-Star break, the Lakers were riding a three-game losing streak.

But the break did wonders for the purple and gold, and they came roaring back. The Lakers have 15 wins and one loss since the break.

Tonight, they face the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center in a battle for the coveted number-two seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Dallas trails the Lakers by a half-game, but both team are gaining on the first place San Antonio Spurs who have lost four in a row with injured Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker.

The Mavericks have a history of having a great regular season but faltering in the playoffs, aside from their one trip to the NBA Finals in 2006.

This year, they continue to have a strong regular season, and look to go deep into the playoffs should they get home court advantage in at least the first two rounds.

Based on the current standings and now with less than 10 games remaining, should both the Lakers and Mavericks make the playoffs at their current seeding and hold off their first round opponents, they would face each other in the Western Conference Semi-finals.

The team with the second seed in the playoffs would have the highly important home court advantage.

Both teams are clicking. The Mavericks are riding a five-game winning streak, while the Lakers are riding a seven-game winning streak.

Dirk Nowitzki leads the Mavericks with a 23.2 scoring average. Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers with a 25.2 scoring average.

The Mavericks defeated the Clippers last night, while the Lakers have been idle since Sunday.