L.A. Lakers: With Playoffs Looming, Lakers’ Rugged Play Proves Dallas Unworthy

My broken laptop and the inadequate state of my school’s computer labs be damned. This simply could not wait.

Last night featured the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks duking it out in a battle for the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed.

With the San Antonio Spurs slumping, losing five straight games for the first time in the Tim Duncan era, the No. 1 seed also appears to be within reach.

Last night was supposed to be a game in which one of the two teams would take advantage.

It turned out to be so much more.

Before we begin, let me say that I have made no secret about how I have felt about the Dallas Mavericks in previous articles. They have always had a formidable amount of talent, as their 50-plus win total in each of the previous decades can attest.

However the reason why the Dallas Mavericks do not and will never (yes, I said never) have a Larry O’Brien trophy in their collection is because of the often overused, yet appropriate S-word: soft.

The Dallas Mavericks are soft. They are toilet tissue-soft, Tempur-Pedic mattress-soft.

But “soft” doesn’t just apply to their approach to the game.

The Mavericks up tempo, jump shot-oriented style of play certainly won’t be mistaken as smashmouth basketball by anyone, yet the Orlando Magic employ a similar style of play.

The difference?

Over the last three seasons the Magic have employed several solid defensive role players, and until a midseason trade that was somewhat baffling, had tremendous depth in their frontcourt.

They also have a player named Dwight Howard—he’s kind of big.

In the Mavericks' case, their acquisition of Tyson Chandler over the offseason was an obvious effort to get tougher, but it never quite took them to the next level.

To me that didn’t seem like enough of an effort rig...

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