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Lakers vs. Mavs: Fine Sunday viewing

March 2, 2008 |  1:36 am

12:30 tip + LA Marathon = early start, so no regular links this morning.  Still, with anticipation for Sunday's matchup with the Mavs percolating like morning coffee, a little news/preview can't hurt.  Coming off the loss in Portland, the Lakers are hardly the picture of concern.  Still, they fully appreciate that to start a new win streak, they'll have to do a better job defensively.  Portland was able to generate a multitude of clean looks, particularly off the pick and roll.  Dallas, as Phil Jackson noted earlier in the week, is pushing the ball more with Jason Kidd, meaning transition D, not exactly the strength of the Lakers, will have to be sharp as well.  Taking care of the ball will help in that department, no doubt.

Other things to watch:

  • The Second Unit: They've been great this season, but weren't as strong in Portland.  A better showing is needed Sunday, because unlike Phoenix, who these days are shallower than a gold digger at a millionaire widowers convention, Avery Johnson has been willing to reach deeper into his bench, even while integrating Kidd and adjusting to a new rotation.  This won't just be a matchup of starters vs. starters, and the Lakers are a much better team when they get balanced production.
  • Kidd's D.  He's starting to play very well, and while the big benefit for Dallas in bringing him in should be in the cajones department, the Mavs are pleased thus far with his defense.  They're putting more pressure on the ball and have cut down on points against since he arrived.  When the Lakers last visited Jersey, Kidd spent some time guarding Kobe and was generally successful, though that was the night 24 hurt his finger.  So take from it what you will. 
  • Kidd as a Scorer: After WhyWasn'tKiddOnTheCourtLateAgainstSanAntonioGate, Avery Johnson asked Kidd to be more of a scorer, and Kidd responded with 21 points on 9-18 from the floor in their win over Sacto on Friday.  If he's pushing things offensively, it's one more scorer the Lakers need to account for, along with Dirk, Howard, and Jason Terry.
  • Getting Down Low: After trading DeSagana Diop in the Kidd deal, the Mavs are thin up front.  They've added Jamaal Magloire to back up Erick Dampier, but that won't help them much, since Magloire really isn't that good anymore.  The Lakers need to take advantage and find ways to get the ball down low and attack the hoop.  Granted, they should be doing this anyway, since L.A. is a better inside-out than outside-in team, but until Dallas shows their interior game isn't a weakness, L.A. should attack. 
  • Dirk vs. L.O.: Odom is one of the few players in the league who truly matches up well defensively with the Giant German, so when the two meet it's always entertaining.