NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks (ESPN) - 15 December 2021


The Lakers should have LeBron James and Russell Westbrook in the lineup for this game. The status of Anthony Davis is in question after the power forward missed the last two games due to a knee issue. 

LA hasn’t looked like a title team through 28 games but there is still some time to figure things out. The Lakers would be out of the play-in tournament if the postseason started today, so the team has been able to get wins where it needs to.

Luka Doncic will be out for this one with an ankle injury. It appears to be a nagging issue for him which will cause him to sit out a few games here and there. 

Something isn’t working in Dallas at the moment, and there was a report about the Mavericks trying to acquire Kyrie Irving. Look for Dallas to be an active player at the trade deadline, especially if the team maintains its .500 course.

Luka Doncic and Rick Carlisle: The dissolution of their relationship, what comes next for the Dallas Mavericks

LUKA DONCIC AND Dennis Smith Jr. had become fast friends after the Dallas Mavericks selected the teenager from Slovenia third overall in the 2018 NBA draft.

Smith, whom the team had drafted ninth a year prior, had shown Doncic around the city and invited the new guy into his social circle. They lived in the same apartment building and had spent hours playing video games together.

If one was spotted during a Mavs road trip, chances are the other would be there too, along with young swingman Dorian Finney-Smith.

The Mavs were quick to market their new guard tandem. Doncic and Smith posed together during media day, smiling for pictures; they were promoted heavily on the team's website. 

Along with soon-to-retire legend Dirk Nowitzki, the young lottery picks were the players featured on billboards around the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

While a friendship blossomed in Dallas' newly formed backcourt, coach Rick Carlisle and the front office were planning to blow it up, sources involved with the franchise's decision-making said, never really believing the duo had staying power.

The Mavs knew Doncic would need to be the primary ball-handler to fulfill his immense potential, and they didn't believe Smith, who they had determined was a high-usage, ball-dominant guard with a suspect jumper, could complement him.

Carlisle, for his part, doubted Smith could be a productive NBA starter, team sources said. He had wanted the Mavs to draft guard Donovan Mitchell and had completely soured on Smith midway through his rookie campaign.

Seven months later, Smith was traded to the New York Knicks, an afterthought in a deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis midway through Doncic's rookie season.

It might not have been a basketball fit, but Doncic and Smith had formed a bond. And Carlisle's apparent determination to make Smith miserable during their brief time as teammates was appalling to Doncic, several former players and staffers told ESPN.

Multiple players were shocked during one early-season team meeting when Carlisle accused Smith of being jealous of Doncic, sources said. The players considered it incredibly unfair to Smith, who wasn't playing well but was making an honest effort to mesh with Doncic on the court.

Doncic particularly resented what he perceived as Carlisle's attempt to pit him against his friend and teammate, team sources said.

It's an early chapter in the Luka Doncic story, an origin point for rising distrust and tension between the team's young star and his coach -- and an indication the relationship would have an expiration date.

"He brought a championship to Dallas," Doncic said after a win in Memphis on Dec. 8, "and everybody respects him."

Those are the most extensive comments Doncic, who declined to be interviewed for this story, has made about Carlisle since the coach's resignation from Dallas in June. Carlisle, now the Indiana Pacers' coach, missed Friday's Mavericks-Pacers game after testing positive for COVID-19.

New coach Jason Kidd and the Mavericks are 27 games into an effort to clear three seasons worth of dysfunction, disillusionment and blowups that cracked the foundation of a franchise built around a superstar who has yet to win a playoff series.

"It wasn't really about how Rick treated Luka," a Mavs player on the 2018-19 team said. "Luka hated how Rick treated other people."

How to watch Lakers vs. Mavericks via live online stream

We go over how you can watch Wednesday’s ESPN game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.

ESPN will host Wednesday’s contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET. Both teams are just above .500 and sit and sixth and seventh in the Western Conference, respectively.

If you aren’t around a TV to check out this NBA matchup, you can stream the game via WatchESPN or the ESPN app. But keep in mind that you need a cable-login subscription. 

If you don’t have a cable login to access ESPN for a live stream, you can get a free trial from YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now, FuboTV, or Sling TV to stream the game.

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