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Coming Attractions

January 07, 2007|MARK HEISLER

It's early for the Lakers to undergo reality testing at the elite level, but ready or not, here come Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks, winners of 13 in a row and 27 of 30.

Of course, being within 20 games makes it early for people to start talking about the Mavericks' breaking the Lakers' NBA record of 33.

If it was hard then -- the NBA's second-longest streak is 20 by the Bucks -- it would be even harder now.

In 1971-72 when the Jerry West-Wilt Chamberlain Lakers did it en route to a 69-13 record and their first NBA title in Los Angeles, two other teams won 55 and both were in the East. Now four other teams are on a 55-win pace and they're all in the West with the Mavericks.

Missing Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown, this could be viewed as a freebie for the Lakers, if there was such a thing in the West. They're already 2 1/2 games behind Phoenix, making them the No. 5 seeded team, looking at a new, sobering scenario: a first-round matchup with No. 4 San Antonio.

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