Tag: Lakers Mavericks Game 2

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

NBA Playoffs: Dallas stands up to Lakers front line, lead 2-0


The Lakers are back-to-back champions for two key reasons. One is Kobe Bryant.

The other is that nobody has been able to stand up to their front line. There are 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, plus 6’10” Lamar Odom — all very long and very skilled. All very hard to stop.

Dallas has.

That is why Dallas won Game 2 93-81, and is up 2-0 series. The Mavericks have won both games on the Lakers home court. They have stood toe-to-toe to the Lakers strength and not given up an inch. These are not the soft-as-tissue-paper Mavericks, and they are in total control of this series now.

For two games now Dallas has shut Gasol down, been more physical inside than Los Angeles, blocked shots and done what no team has consistently done for two seasons now. In Game 2 the Lakers were 13-of-23 at the rim (shots basically inside the restricted area) and 5-of-13 from there out to 9 feet.

Every team talks about standing up to the Lakers inside, but Dallas is doing it.

“For us, we have a lot of size,” Mavs center Brendan Haywood said. “Most teams come in don’t have the size that we have — Tyson (Chandler) is 7-feet, Dirk (Nowitzki) is 7-feet, I’m 7-feet. We have a lot of size we can throw at them and we can challenge shots at the rim.”

Pau Gasol was only 3-of-6 at the rim, Lamar Odom 1-of-6. Dallas challenged everything. Even DeShawn Stevenson was getting blocks on Gasol.

Dallas was able to pack the paint and challenge those shots because the Lakers outside shooting. Or more accurately, the lack of it. Particularly from three. The jump shots were worse than what was going on in the paint.

Los Angeles started 0-for-15 from three. They didn’t hit one — the first was a Kobe pull up — until there was just more than two minutes left and the game was all but decided.

The Lakers offense is all about spacing — if you pack the paint you have to leave someone open. Dallas did. The Lakers missed and did not make them pay.

Dallas held the Lakers to 32 second half points.

The Mavericks sealed the win with a brilliant second half from J.J. Barea, who had 12 points and four assits. The diminutive Puerto Rican guard — to look at him, he would be the last guy picked in your pickup-game at the YMCA — carved up the Lakers defense off the pick-and-roll and the Lakers defended it terribly. Odom and Gasol did not show out well, basically creating a second screen for Steve Blake or Shannon Brown to fight through. Then Barea used that to charge right at Bynum or whatever big had to protect the paint, then he’d hit the open man.

That followed the theme of the first two games.

These Lakers leave the door open. They make mistakes. From poor pick-and-roll coverage to missing threes to going away from Andrew Bynum when he was the best Laker big on the night (6-of-6 a the rim and with 18 points on 11 shots overall).

Dallas has capitalized. The Lakers have made mistakes in the past but been able to overcome — Dallas is showing mental and physical toughness, a veteran poise, and they are making the Lakers pay for their lapses.

Dallas has been the better team. Nowitzki has been nothing short of brilliant, drilling his unstoppable rainbow fadeaway on his way to 24 points in Game 2.

Now the Lakers will need to win in Dallas to keep this series going. They are going to have to do it in Game 3 Friday without Ron Artest, who will get suspended for a late cheap shot on Barea.

Dallas to a man said they were wary of the Lakers championship pedigree. They said this series is not over.

It doesn’t feel like that. It feels like Dallas is going to keep on standing toe-to-toe with the Lakers, punching them in the mouth and soon will be looking to throw the knockout punch.

Phil Jackson: “Ya, we’re worried now”

Phil Jackson

Kobe Bryant said after the Lakers dropped Game 1, they should be worried.

The Lakers are realizing that these Mavericks are not the old Mavericks. They are not soft inside (hello Tyson Chandler) and they are veterans. Before Game 2 Phil Jackson echoed Kobe’s thoughts.

“Ya, we’re worried now,” Jackson said. “This is a good team, they have the same record we have, they have a lot of options for scoring, we’ve got to play a lot better to overcome this team over the course of a series.

“Our strength is we’ve always become better and better progressively through a series and I hope we do that.”

When asked it that was just him trying to motivate his charges through the media, Jackson noted they were not going to see this game before tip off.

As for strategy, you can’t really expect much to leak pregame. Jackson tried to hide whether or not he’d give Ron Artest some time on Nowitzki, but he made one interesting tactical point.

“Probably it’s unlikely,” Jackson said of using Artest. “Ron has a penchant for sending guys to their left, which is Dirk’s strongest point.”

NBA Playoffs: It’s not all about the Lakers… but it’s close

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game One

I don’t want to write that Game 2 is really about the Lakers — how they adjust, what effort they bring, whether they stick with their game plan. Because that is dismissive of a very good Mavericks team. This version of Dallas is different — past Mavs teams would have lost Game 1, not taken advantage of the Lakers many miscues down the stretch. These Mavs are not soft (Tyson Chandler sees to that).

But really, it’s about the Lakers.

Because it was about those miscues. About being clutch. When these two teams play their best games, the Lakers will win. And while Dallas was not at its best, the Lakers were farther away from that ideal Monday. If Los Angeles acts like the veteran team, comes out and plays with some real desperation and passion, Dallas will not be able to stop the series from being tied 1-1.

But we don’t know what we will get from the Lakers. What’s more, this year’s Lakers have been so inconsistent that to expect a switch to be flipped would be the big mistake. The question is how many chances does Dallas get and can they capitalize on enough? If they capitalize on Game 2 they will be a long way to a huge upset.

There will be a few adjustments for Game 2. One is talk that the Lakers may give Ron Artest some time on Dirk Nowitzki, who put up 28 and looked like he could get what he wanted for much of Game 1. Pau Gasol struggled to slow Dirk, Lamar Odom was the better matchup. Artest is physical, maybe that bothers Nowitzki, but the fact is a 7-foot guy who can shoot rainbow fadeaways cannot be stopped on a hot night. Doesn’t matter who is on him. But the Lakers will try some different looks.

As for the Lakers, look for them to return to getting the ball inside. They did a reasonable job of that in the first half (Gasol had 9 points on 5 shots, plus 6 rebounds in the first 24 before his error filled ending) but after a Lakers run at the start of the third Los Angeles fell in love with the jumper and stopped feeding the beast in the paint. Look for Los Angeles to assert Andrew Bynum early and often, to go right at Tyson Chandler.

Also, look for Kobe Bryant to attack off the dribble and try to draw contact, not just shoot jumpers. Well, unless his ankle is worse than everyone lets on.

None of these adjustments are really a surprise. It’s a matter of execution and focus.

For the Lakers, they better have enough to get the win. If they go down 0-2, there should be real desperation in L.A.