The Mavericks were noticeably weaker than last year, as the losses of defensive force Tyson Chandler and crafty point guard J.J. Barea have seemingly taken their toll. Unlike the many three point baskets Lakers fans were left to have nightmares about at the end of last season, Dallas managed only 4 makes on 26 attempts. Lamar Odom (10 points) hasn’t found his rhythm yet in his team’s new system, and Jason Kidd and Jason Terry combined for just 10 points.
As for the Lakers, Andrew Bynum had another solid game, earning 17 points and 15 rebounds. Pau Gasol struggled from the field with 8 points on 3-11 shooting, but played strong defense against Dirk Nowitzki, most notably in the fourth quarter. Josh McRoberts proved to be the best member of the Peace Corps (the unofficial nickname given to the bench as an ode to their delegated leader, Metta World Peace) on Monday night. However, the leader of the Peace Corps scored only two points on 1-7 shooting as his minutes continue to decline as Matt Barnes (nine points, five rebounds) and Jason Kapono’s increase. World Peace was out on the floor for the last play though, and played solid defense on Vince Carter to prevent a game-tying three pointer at the buzzer.
The defense for the Lakers looked solid, holding Dallas’ field goal percentage to 35 percent and three point percentage to just 15 percent. The Lakers didn’t shoot much better, connecting on just 38 percent of their shots. Derek Fisher’s game winning three was the Lakers only made three point shot out of 10 attempts.
It is evident that Kobe Bryant is currently the Lakers’ offensive system, as head coach Mike Brown has recently acknowledged to be fact until the team gets settled in its new offense. As he failed to continue his scoring spree of 40-plus games (four games consecutively), the Lakers struggled to score as well. He did manage seven assists, however, which has also been an increased role asked of him this season. This gives the “Kobe System” a whole new meaning.
Overall, the Lakers were able to pull out an ugly, defensive minded game.
Although Lakers fans have been clamoring for a new point guard, they don’t look to be getting one anytime soon. In the mean time, the Lakers’ guards must look to increase the opportunity for the big guys down low.
First, the big guys must be aggressive, especially Pau Gasol. Gasol has been on cruise control much of the season, which is fine as he’s allowing Andrew Bynum to progress, but he must also assert himself in the fourth quarter much more, as we have seen him do in past playoff performances.
Second, the guards must look to not just dump the ball in the post for Gasol or Bynum to go to work, but also run some pick and roll type plays for them. We saw more of this tonight as opposed to Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, and this must continue.
The Lakers were out rebounded 49-44 and gave up five more offensive boards (11-6) against the Mavericks. Although Gasol, Bynum, and McRoberts combined for 26 rebounds, the team as a whole must step up and grab more rebounds.
More importantly, they must limit offensive rebounds. With two seven footers down low, there is no reason the Lakers should not out rebound any team they face every night. If they can use their biggest asset, their length, to their fullest abilities, it gives the Lakers a chance to win every night.
And having guys like Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, who seemingly share a killer instinct, doesn’t hurt either.