You can say what you want about Jason Kidd closing games and whether he should have played the last 34 seconds against San Antonio, but when the game is on the line, the Mavs are still Dirk's team and he's the one who needs the ball in his hands for the final shots. He doesn't always make 'em, but he still gives the Mavs their best chances and he proved it once again when he cold-bloodedly nailed the three that sent Sunday's game against Los Angeles into overtime.
However, the superhero of this game was wearing Lakers gold. Kobe Bryant was simply sensational and proved to me once again he is the best player in the game today. I know an argument can be made for LaBron James, but Kobe single-handedly willed the Lakers to victory Sunday scoring 30 of his 50 points in the fourth quarter and the overtime. But it was his killer rebound off a Lamar Odom missed free throw that sealed the deal for me. If the Lakers wind up seeded one or two in the West, Kobe has got to be this season's MVP.
The other thing I realized after this game, plus the one against the Spurs, is that the Mavs have a good team, but it's not going to be good enough, not in this year's Western Conference. I don't think the Mavs are even good enough to get one of the top four seeds and a home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. (Of course, history has shown that home-court advantage really doesn't mean that much in the NBA playoffs). The real test will come tomorrow night at Utah. If the Mavs drop that one, I see them battling Phoenix for spots five and six. I don't see Houston moving higher than 7 without Yao so the Rockets will be vying for one of the last two playoff berths against Golden State and Denver. If the Suns continue to play as bad as they have for the last week, the Mavs could fit very comfortably into the five spot, but that means they will probably exit during the first round of the playoffs again.
If you've got a pen handy, you might circle next Saturday, March 8, on your calendar. That's the day the New Jersey Nets come to town.