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LA trip tests Mavs' rebounding mettle

LOS ANGELES -- The Mavericks’ toughness will be tested during their stay in L.A.

“The next two games are going to be a lot about rebounding,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ve got two very big, tall, powerful, athletic teams that go get the ball above the rim. We’re going to have to get bodies and go get it.”

The Clippers, led by Blake Griffin (12.0 rebounds per game), rank seventh in the NBA in rebounding margin. The Lakers, who have Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom each averaging at least 8.7 boards, rank second in the league in rebounding margin.

The challenge for the Mavericks (11th in rebounding margin) will be to keep the boards battle even.

The brunt of that falls on Tyson Chandler’s shoulders. He’s by far the Mavs’ leading rebounder with 9.5 per game.

The Mavs will also need Dirk Nowitzki to get his hands dirty. Nowitzki is in the midst of the best shooting season of a surefire Hall of Fame career, but he hasn’t rebounded well, averaging only 6.9 per game. That’s 1.5 less than his career average and his lowest average since his second season.

Over the course of his career, Nowitzki has done his best rebounding in the biggest games. He has a career playoff average of 10.9 rebounds per game.

That trend will need to continue -- and Dirk will need to reverse this season's reduced rebounding trend -- to give the Mavs a chance to beat L.A. in May.