Tag: Lakers Mavericks Game 3

Dallas Mavericks Nowitzki celebrates hitting a three-point shot in the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Dallas

NBA Playoffs: Dallas is just better than the Lakers


The Dallas Mavericks are better than the Los Angeles Lakers.

It is a weird thing to type, but it’s true. They may not have been for 40 minutes, 30 seconds on Friday night — the Lakers were up eight points with 7:30 left in the game — but the Mavericks offense dominated the rest of the way. Dallas won 98-92, on a huge, late comeback.

Dallas will move on. These two teams will play at least one more game or three because the rules demand it — but this series is over. Not because no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit before in the NBA playoffs, but because right now Dallas is better than Los Angeles.

Kobe Bryant was rightfully frustrated afterward, talking about the Lakers’ mistakes; there were plenty. But Dallas is forcing them. This is about Dallas doing the things a contender does and the Lakers being unable to this year.

Dallas has the single best player in this series in Dirk Nowitzki (he had 32 points in this one on just 19 shots). Each game someone else has stepped up and made the key plays to be the other scorer Dallas needs (Peja Stojakovic with 11 in the fourth quarter Friday). Dallas is executing better in the fourth quarter. Dallas is getting better coaching (or at least the Dallas players are executing what the coach wants).

When the Lakers led by eight in the fourth quarter, Dallas started to rain threes down — the Mavs shot 60 percent in the fourth quarter. It was not the two-time defending champs, it was Dallas that closed.

The Lakers played a much better defensive game in the second and third quarters, the best they played in this series. Their spacing, their aggressiveness on closeouts were better. At least it got better after a first-quarter shootout, with the Mavs knocking down open 3-pointers and the Lakers working hard on getting the ball inside.

Andrew Bynum was a beast inside; it may have been his best game as a pro. He finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but he was by far the most energetic and motivated Laker on the floor. His steal out at the 3-point line and finishing dunk was a signature play… or would have been if the Lakers had won.

But the Lakers never pulled away. Dallas has been too good all series to let the game slip away. This is where Jason Terry’s 23 points came in, he was the scoring spark the Mavs needed.

Then in the fourth quarter the Mavs started to rain threes on the Lakers. The Lakers stopped helping the helper — one Lakers defender would get beat, another Laker would slide in the paint to help stop penetration but nobody would rotate over to help out the helper. The result was Stojakovic getting wide-open threes. Even Nowitzki got wide-open threes. Kobe was as guilty as anybody. This was the “trust issue” Bynum talked about, and if you define trust by your defensive rotations, then the Lakers still have trust issues.

The use of Stojakovic was brilliant by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle — the Lakers had gone with three bigs (Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Bynum) but by putting Peja in, it forced Odom to come away from the paint and cover. It spaced the Lakers out and created room for others — which the Mavericks used well.

Dallas executed. The Lakers stopped executing.

As they often do at the end of games, the Lakers threw the triangle out the window and went to isolation or pick-and-roll plays. The result was Bynum not touching the ball once down the stretch. Not once. It was Kobe shooting over double-teams while Odom stood open 12 feet away. It was terrible inbound passes from Fisher. It was a bad foul by Fisher 28 feet from the basket.

Meanwhile, Dallas just kept doing their thing and hitting shots (11-of-28 from three, 39.7 percent).

This is not the end of the Lakers dynasty. The core of this team — Gasol, Bynum, Kobe, Odom, even Ron Artest — are all young enough to make another run. The team needs work, but the core is there to make another run.

But not this year. This year they are done.

The Mavericks are the better team.

Lakers to start Odom, Gasol, Bynum in one long front line

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

All season, the only real chance that Lakers fans got to see what Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum looked like playing at the same time was on NBA 2K11. Because Phil Jackson almost never ran that lineup out there — 2:30 for the entire season. Total.

But with the season on the line — down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks heading into Game 3 Friday night — and Ron Artest out suspended, Jackson is going to his literally big three.

Lamar Odom said he would be starting for Artest (beside Gasol and Bynum), although Jackson declined to be specific, according to Lakers.com. This is Phil Jackson, what actually happens when the ball goes up may have no resemblance to what was said pregame. But as of now it looks like Odom starts, not Matt Barnes or Shannon Brown as had been expected.

This does some interesting things to the matchups.

It gives the Lakers options in dealing with Dirk Nowitzki, who has been the best player in this series. Odom has had more success as a defender on him than Gasol.

On offense, this moves Kobe to more of a wing attack position, where bringing help defenders could be harder, notes Darius from Forum Blue & Gold. Kobe has gotten just one shot at the rim in two games, this could give him more room to attack (if his ankle can support it). It also pretty much forces Dallas to guard Kobe with Kidd.

Look for Dallas to counter with Peja Stojakovic early — force Odom to come out and defend him at the arc, spreading the floor.

This is going to be one fascinating game.

NBA Playoffs: For both Mavericks, Lakers next two games are the real test

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

It’s really about the next two games.

The Los Angeles Lakers, their dreams of a three-peat — a fourth three-peat for departing coach Phil Jackson — and a spot in the NBA pantheon rests on sweeping the next two games. Which starts with winning one, Game 3, and planting the seed of doubt in the minds of all the Dallas Mavericks and their fans.

For the Mavericks, their drive to shake the perception that they are soft, that they melt in the pressure of the playoffs, that they are not contenders, all can be brushed aside with even a split at home.

The first two games of this series set a tone and set the stage. But Game 3, that will be a war. The Lakers will not go quietly into that good night, they will rage, rage against the dying of their three-peat light. Dallas can expect the best Lakers team they have seen yet.

This weekend’s games will define this series, and one way or another define these team’s seasons.

Dallas has stood toe-to-toe with the Lakers and not been overwhelmed by their length. Andrew Bynum has still been good, but Pau Gasol has struggled against the Mavs, looking fatigued from banging bodies and uncomfortable, unable to get to his spots. Gasol has seemed frustrated and that has led to bad decisions. The Lakers cannot have that — without Gasol as their second-best player the Lakers go from contenders to just good.

That is the first challenge Dallas will be sure to see — Gasol is going to have a good game soon. He is too skilled, too prideful not to. He isn’t wired like Kobe Bryant or a lot of players, he is not overtly competitive, but Phil’s prodding is better for him than just a yeller of a coach. Jackson knows how to motivate him. Gasol is intellectual. He’s also competitive. He will have a good game.

That’s the inside, on the outside Dallas needs to contest the Lakers jump-shooters — Los Angeles will not be 2-for-20 cold again from three like they were in Game 2. The Lakers just flat out missed good looks all game. That will change. Probably. The Lakers bench seems able to go that cold at any time.

Meanwhile, Dallas must keep making their jumpers. To call them a jump-shooting team has been a euphemism for soft, but the truth is Dallas did get a lower percentage of its points in the paint than any other team this past season. It’s the perfect offense against the Lakers — Los Angeles wants to take away the paint first — so long as the shots are falling. Which they have for Dallas so far, but they cannot go cold.

The Lakers remain a supremely confident team — they feel if they can just play up to their potential and eliminate mistakes, they can be right back in this. They were loose after practice and before the flight to Dallas. They think that a few defensive adjustments will help — look for Derek Fisher to stop trying to fight over the top of picks. Look for the Lakers’ bigs to either show out hard or back off when Dallas runs the high pick, rather than stand in the middle and essentially be a second pick on the guard.

But mostly they think they just need to play with better focus. That’s what winning two titles brings you — the confidence bordering on arrogance to think you can do the nearly impossible.

For Dallas, their confidence after two games will be tested. Everyone remembers them being up 2-0 in the 2006 finals against the Miami Heat; they remember years of playoff collapses. This year feels different — Tyson Chandler spearheads a new bad-ass attitude — but they will have to prove it. Again.

They will have to prove it this weekend, this Friday or Sunday. Either they will move one win away from the Western Conference finals, or they will see a huge shadow creeping over them.

Dallas has set the tone, and if it can stand its ground again and get a win or two, the reputation of the past will fade away. As will the Lakers.

But it will not be easy. The Lakers still have their best punch to throw. Game 3 is going to be the game of the series. Well, maybe until Game 4.

“Jovial” Lakers say trust issues = defensive rotations

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

Before Wednesday night’s Game 2 Lakers loss, Phil Jackson thought his team was a little too up tight, a little too tense, taking it all a little too seriously. He was looking for some comic relief.

After the game, down 2-0, Andrew Bynum was talking seriously about the Lakers having trust issues. Nobody was laughing.

But they were Thursday.

Phil Jackson was “jovial” after practice, according to Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudel on twitter. He was cracking jokes. Other reporters at practice described the team being in relatively lighthearted spirits.

As for the trust issues, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register summed it up this way on twitter.

Lakers discussed Bynum-cited trust issues. Phil said Bynum must help 6th time even if his guy is given 5 dunks. “That’s the trust issue.”

Confident Kobe summing up practice today: “Learned a lot, saw a lot, ready to make adjustments.”

Maybe it seems odd to have the Lakers lighthearted while their fans are scouting out good ledges to jump off of after Game 3, but that’s just kind of who they are — they are supremely confident. Or arrogant. Take your pick. But they believe.

And taking things seriously has lost them two games at home. Maybe some jokes and a “we have nothing to lose” attitude is needed. It can’t do worse.

Dallas smells blood in the water and wants to finish this. They are confident in themselves and their game plan. But the Lakers are not going to roll over. Game 3 of this series could be one of the epic ones of the playoffs.

It’s official, Lakers Ron Artest suspended for Game 3

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers

As was expected, the NBA has suspended Lakers forward Ron Artest for Game 3 of the Lakers series against Dallas.

The reason was Artest smacked J.J. Barea across the face with his forearm near the end of the Lakers Game 2 loss. It was deserved. Watch the video at this link if you haven’t seen it, but this is fitting.

It also leaves the Lakers in a bind — it means more play for the Lakers bench, and so far this series the Lakers bench has stunk up the joint. In Game 2 the Lakers bench provided 12 points on 6-of-23 shooting, as many turnovers as assists plus some bad defense. To be fair, in Game 1 Lamar Odom came off the bench and was solid, but Barnes, Steve Blake and Shannon Brown were not.

Look for Barnes to get the start, but that means Dallas can shift the longer Shawn Marion on to Kobe Bryant, leaving Jason Kidd on Barnes. It’s all not good for a Lakers team with some real issues this series down 2-0 (having lost both games at home).