- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks have gone back and forth on the court this season, splitting their first two games, and the banter spouting from both sides off the court has followed suit.
While Lakers head coach Phil Jackson and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have had their own personal tête à tête over the years, some other characters got into the mix before Thursday's game between the two Western Conference rivals.
First, Mavs guard Jason Terry called out the Lakers back court.
"I don't think Kobe [Bryant] wants to chase me or Roddy Beaubois around the court all night," Terry recently told the "Galloway & Company" show on ESPN Radio 103.3 in Dallas. "I just don't think they can do it. They're a little older in the backcourt. I'd love to see it happen."
Jackson responded, lobbing the same insult back at the 33-year-old Terry.
"He's having fun," Jackson said. "He's 38, he knows he's 38 and back-to-backs are a little bit tough for him. [Wednesday] night he didn't have to play very much [against the Clippers]. Tonight I think he'll be able to play. They're still tough, back-to-backs, at his age."
As for Cuban, he directed his aspersions at Ron Artest rather than his normal target in Jackson this time around.
"Anything that puts the ball in Ron Artest's hands is always a good thing," Cuban told reporters Wednesday. "And you can tell him that I'll even take him out for ice cream. Of all the choices you have on that team, you want Ron Artest making the decisions in the triangle."
The ice cream comment was a reference to a sarcastic tweet from Artest before the Lakers' March 12 win in Dallas, when Artest scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Artest tweeted that he thought Cuban, a frequent critic of his, would take him out for ice cream after the game.
"I know that Mark likes to prick the skin of people," said Jackson, pausing for extra emphasis after the second verb in the sentence. "But he's not a player. He just sits behind the bench with his suntanned face and has to make comments like that. He's got nothing to do with it. I know that he's provided a great roster that's almost as good as money can buy. But not quite."
The Mavericks have the league's second highest pay roll at $90.8 million, trailing only the Lakers at $91.6 million but have made it out of the first round of the playoffs just once in the last four seasons while Los Angeles has played in three straight Finals.
Jackson also defended the use of pitting the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Artest on the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Jason Kidd down low.
"Ron played within the context of what our offense is about," Jackson said. "This offense used to be called the triple-post offense and all the forwards and the centers have a role in posting up in that offense. Even our guards at times. We took advantage [of Artest on Kidd] last time."
The Mavericks started out Thursday's game with Shawn Marion guarding Artest.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com contributed to this report.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks have gone back and forth on the court this season, splitting their first two games, and the banter spouting from both sides off the court has followed suit.