Thursday, April 3, 2008

Victory gets Mavs back on track

They’re back to having a chance. The Mavericks left Dallas for the West Coast with a renewed confidence and noticeable skip in their step. Exercising a few demons does that for a team.

The next step is building on that 25-point stomping of Golden State and riding that momentum into a postseason that suddenly appears in better focus. As important as it was on several levels to beat the Warriors, the next rung isn’t any less steep.

The Mavs don’t have the same playoff history with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, but the thorn driven home by the Pacific Division leaders is just as painful. Bryant, a leading MVP contender, has tortured the Mavs with some pretty scary numbers over the years.

Friday night’s visit to Staples Center is also a possible first round preview, though there’s still plenty to settle in the pairings with less than two weeks left in the regular season. The Mavs (47-28) are seventh in the Western Conference, while the Lakers (51-24) are battling for a top seed. Both have seven games left.

“We’re just trying to play them all out,” Avery Johnson said Thursday before leaving for LA. “Whether we were playing Memphis seven times or San Antonio or Houston, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We need to just keep playing good basketball. We need to try to build some momentum and get some sort of swagger.

“Golden State is a team that’s had it against us and this year we’ve had it against them. It was good to see. We just need to keep trying to build some momentum. It’s not the easiest thing to do. We know we’re going to be underdogs going out here to play against the Lakers, but we were underdogs yesterday in a lot of people’s minds playing against the Warriors. We just need to keep fighting.”

Read the rest of this story with a Lakers preview at

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