The Dallas Mavericks have not been above .500 beyond the first week of the season in three years, and they would like to remain above .500 after they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Dallas (10-9) has won three in a row and seven of eight heading into its second meeting of the season against the Lakers.
Los Angeles (12-9) beat the Mavericks 114-113 on Oct. 31 when LeBron James made a tie-breaking free throw with 2.1 seconds left.
"The important thing is we just can't have a letup," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after a 128-108 win at the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. "We got in an early hole. We fought our way back over .500 and it's going to be a fight to stay above."
Los Angeles is 4-1 against Dallas since the start of the 2017-18 season after losing 14 straight from 2013-14 to 2016-17, its longest losing streak against the Mavericks.
The Lakers ended a two-game losing streak with a 104-96 win against the visiting Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.
The Lakers led by 24 points early in the second quarter against the Pacers, but it was Indiana's bench that helped pull them back within six at the half.
The Pacers briefly led in the third quarter and were still within one with just under five minutes left when Los Angeles pulled away for good.
"When we get a lead, we've got to continue putting the pedal to the medal, not turn the ball over and allow teams to get back, and not lose our energy," James told Spectrum SportsNet after totaling 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against Indiana.
One of the strengths of the Mavericks this season has been their bench.
The Dallas reserves outscored its Los Angeles counterparts 44-22 in the meeting last month, and the Mavericks outscored the Rockets 61-25 in bench points on Wednesday.
Dallas reserve guard Devin Harris missed the last game against the Lakers because of a hamstring injury, but he is healthy and proved it by scoring a season-high 20 points against the Rockets, shooting 5 of 6 from 3-point range in just 15 minutes of action.
Harris is the first NBA reserve in league history to total at least 20 points and four assists in 15 minutes or fewer. Dallas reserve point guard J.J. Barea also became the first reserve in league history to record at least 10 points and 12 assists in 18 minutes or fewer.
Mavericks reserve forward Dwight Powell returned against Houston after missing the previous three games with a left knee injury and contributed six points. Powell had 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench in the first meeting against Los Angeles.
"We have really good players, but the strength is the sum of its parts," Carlyle said.
The Mavericks are 2-7 on the road this season and will be trying for their first two-game winning streak on the same road trip since going 3-0 against the Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder from Dec. 27-31, 2017.
The Lakers will look to improve from long range after combining to shoot 12 for 59 (20.3 percent) from 3-point range in the past two games.