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Monday, January 11, 2010
The Come Up: Round 2 vs. the Lakers (and Cowboys)

By Jeff "Skin" Wade

Monday means “The Come Up” -- and for the second consecutive week, the Mavs head into a Monday coming off of a head-hanging loss. Wednesday provides an opportunity for redemption, Friday night brings the new Ice to town and Sunday starts a cold road trip with the Mavs playing opposite the playoff Cowboys -- again. And it go a ‘lil summin’ like this:

I want revenge ...

A week ago, the Lakeshow rolled the Mavs to the tune of 131-96 in what was a painful-to-watch performance on both ends of the floor for Dallas. And believe it or not, it’s LA who’s been struggling since last Sunday.

The Lakers have the best record in the league (29-8), but they head into Tuesday night’s game against the Spurs having lost three road games in a row. Pau Gasol hasn’t played since he strained his left hammy in the first quarter against the Mavs last Sunday.

But the biggest reason the Lakers are stumbling has to do with Kobe Bryant's broken right index finger. Because he’s Kobe, he won’t miss any time as he grinds through games attempting different splint approaches in an attempt to play through. And because he’s Kobe, the Lakers will grind through nights of high-volume bricking.

In Sunday’s night blowout of the Bucks, Kobe was 4-21 from the floor. And that’s right on par with his recent shooting trend. In his last four games, Kobe is 37–111 -- or what calculators like to call 33 percent. He’s still averaging right at 25 a night during that span, but the efficiency obviously isn’t there.

One dude who has had it together is big Andrew Bynum, who is coming off his third straight double-double.

So you have hurt Kobe, probably inactive Gasol and the road-troubled Lakers coming to town on the second night of a back-to-back. If you can’t get your revenge with those parameters, it may be time for a pulse check.

A new I-35 rival?

Last Friday, Dallas handled their hated rival to the South -- San Antone. This Friday night, the Mavericks host the young guns from the North in what I’m thinking will be Dallas’ pesky new rival for the next few years.

I realize that the Oklahoma City Thunder plays in a different division, and that somewhat complicates that idea, but don’t be surprised if Friday night’s game is a preview of a first-round playoff series.

The last time we scribbled about the Thunder in The Come Up, we noted the offensive brilliance of Kevin Durant. But we also took note of their new attention to defense that had been perhaps the biggest reason for the Thunder's ascension to playoff-worthy basketball.

So what happened in that first meeting?

Dallas held Durant to 12 points on 4-18 shooting while hitting half its own shots in running away in the fourth quarter of a 100-86 victory. Since then? Durant had one stretch of seven straight games where he hung 30 or more on whoever got in his way. At the tender age of 21, Durant is one of the most effortless scorers in the NBA and will no doubt end the season in the top five.

The Thunder (20-16) have won seven of their last nine heading into Monday's home game against the Knicks. Their arrow is pointing up in a big, big way.

Opposite the Cowboys again?

You know the story. Anything happening in The Dub opposite a Dallas Cowboys playoff game is a tough proposition. And for the second consecutive weekend, the Mavs face a tough proposition.

Sunday road games tipping during lunch should be banned. But Sunday road games tipping half an hour before kickoff of a Cowboy playoff game is downright cruel.

The Raptors have actually come to life in their last 10, winning eight and pulling themselves back into the Eastern Conference playoff conversation at 19-19.

You’ll remember early November when Toronto came to town and allowed the Mavs to score 129 in what was a laughable defensive “effort.” Not that these guys are suddenly playing Fratello-ball, but it should be noted that, during their recent run, the Raps have held five of their 10 opponents to under 100 points.

But it’s not as if anybody is noticing. Most stories about Toronto these days have to do with where Chris Bosh will sign this summer or if he’ll actually be traded by the deadline in February. As most know, CB4 is part of the much ballyhooed 2010 free agent class.

Interesting side note, former Mav great and current ESPN hoops analyst Jamal Mashburn had Bosh on his All-Underrated team Sunday night at halftime of the Portland-Cleveland broadcast. Bosh is a max contract dude who rolls out 24 and 11 a night on 52 percent shooting and is a member of Team USA. Also making appearances on Mash's All-Underrated team were Meryl Streep, Mexican food and petroleum.

Can’t believe the Cowboys didn’t get a nod. There’s your week.