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Texas trip works Lakers into early playoff lather

A week of showdowns against the West's best figures to get the Lakers into playoff mode a month early.

Updated: March 20, 2002, 1:58 AM ET
By Marc Stein | Special to ESPN.com

You have the NCAA Tournament. You have the Best In The West Round Robin.

You have to know by now which one we'll be watching.

Lakers at Mavericks on Tuesday. Lakers at Spurs on Wednesday. Spurs at Mavericks on Thursday.

And if just one of the above approaches Sunday's thrilling aperitif -- that would be Mavericks at Lakers, not UCLA-Cincinnati -- you'd have to take it.

You could scarcely hope for more from Round 1, Sunday night's bow at Staples, in which the revamped Mavericks ...

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