From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Who knew Dallas would come to town, and a Lakers-Nuggets game would break out! I kid (sort of), but in what could very well be a preview of the Western Conference Semi-Finals, the Lakers sent a very, very strong message to the Mavericks, outscoring them by nine points in the third quarter and 15 in the fourth, turning a tight game at halftime into a blowout. While the chippiness of the second half- five players found themselves in the showers early by the time the game was over (along with three ejections in the crowd on a crazy night for the Staples Center red coats)- will dominate the news Friday, the final score, and how the Lakers decimated the Mavs down the stretch, should really be the story. Dallas is a very solid team worthy of L.A.’s respect, but still seem lacking in answers for what the Lakers can do down low. Nothing about tonight’s game leaves the impression they could beat the Lakers in a seven game series.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Pity Derrick Caracter. This week the young rookie got sent down to join the Lakers’ D-League affiliate in Bakersfield, a horrifying destination under any circumstances. To make matters worse, the assignment came just in time for him to miss the champs’ most entertaining victory of the season, a 110 to 82 destruction of the Dallas Mavericks. Poor DC was forced to skip some of the most deranged goings-on seen at Staples Center in quite some time. That’s the bad news. The good news is, one or two Lakers could soon be advised by the league office that it’s time for them to take a little unpaid vacation, in which case Caracter’s stay in Bakersfield won’t be a long one. Let’s put it this way: in the fourth quarter this evening, Theo Ratliff, who hadn’t appeared in a game since early November, got pulled off the bench, at the behest of Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, to shoot a pair of free throws, and that was maybe the eighth-weirdest thing that happened tonight.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: For a two-time defending NBA champion team that had everyone sold it was saving itself for the playoffs, the Lakers are closing in on the league’s best regular-season record anyway. By turning back Western Conference contender Dallas on Thursday night, 110-82, at Staples Center the Lakers reached 54-20 compared to San Antonio’s 57-18 … with the Lakers still to play host to the slumping Spurs on April 12. The Lakers need to win that game to avoid giving San Antonio the tiebreaker via head-to-head record. If the Lakers do even the season series that night, the next tiebreaker for those teams is conference record: San Antonio is 35-11 and the Lakers are 33-11, meaning the Lakers are positioned to earn that edge en route to earning a tie.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The three guys the Lakers brought in to play the most minutes around Kobe Bryant in the first two years of Phil Jackson’s second coming as Lakers coach? Kwame Brown, Smush Parker and Vladimir Radmanovic. Brown, whom Brian Shaw called a “pussycat.” Parker, whom Frank Hamblen called … let’s just say it was unprintable. Radmanovic, whom Jackson called a “space cadet.” Safe to say, not quite the sort of fellows Bryant wanted in his foxhole, and it took the Lakers a while to realize that Bryant’s intensity would not be enough. He could not be asked to be the team’s toughest guy and the league’s best player. It started with Derek Fisher’s return, it was a big reason why Ron Artest made more sense than Trevor Ariza, and it has peaked with the additions of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes this season.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: One shove sparked the Lakers’ ire, united the team and sent a message across the league that no one should mess with them. One win drastically affected the Western Conference standings, continued the Lakers’ dominant play and left everyone else wondering if anyone can stop them. One game provided a definitive preview of a playoff matchup, sparked possible suspensions and prompted Staples Center security to handle fan behavior. Yes, the Lakers’ 110-82 victory Thursday over the Dallas Mavericks featured all of the above. It provided enough drama to keep Lamar Odom’s reality television show crew satisfied and with a never-ending challenge on what to cut during the editing process. It sparked enough tension among the 18,997 fans at Staples Center, who witnessed eight ejections, including three from the stands. And it allowed the Lakers (54-20) to increase their mark to 16-1 since the All-Star break, extend their lead to 1 1/2 games over Dallas (53-22) for second place in the conference and cut San Antonio’s (57-18) stake for first place to a 2 1/2-game cushion after the Spurs’ fifth consecutive loss, the latest at the hands of the Boston Celtics. It’s not often Laker fans are rooting for their arch rival, but this was one of those nights.
From Mark Heisler, LA Times: On one hand, you’ve got Dallas owner Mark Cuban’s motor mouth, his broken-down star and his team, the best money can buy — “but not quite,” said his Lakers nemesis, Phil Jackson, who won’t even give him credit for that. On the other hand, you’ve got “Jeanie’s Boy Toy,” which Cuban has called Jackson … not that Phil necessarily took any offense to being a boy toy at 65. Jackson is also “my bucket boy” to Cuban and Ron Artest the Laker “you want making decisions in the triangle.” This vaudeville act goes back 10 years to the game in Dallas when they ran a cartoon of Fat Albert going “Ho, Ho, Ho” on the scoreboard video screen, zinging Shaquille O’Neal.