I’ve said it before that even though Dallas is always a perennial playoff contender, I don’t normally think of them as much of a threat to the Lakers’ ultimate goal. They are rarely on our side of the Western Conference bracket. In fact, the Lakers haven’t played the Mavericks in a playoff series since 1988, so it’s hard for me to take them as a legitimate opponent since I haven’t seen them get a crack at the Lakers when it counted. Furthermore Dirk Nowitzki is one of the best European players to ever play in the NBA- he’s supremely talented and seems like a nice enough guy, so there isn’t much to go on from that angle.
Last night changed some of that. Early in the 4th quarter, with the game being handily won by the Lakers, Steve Blake fell down out of bounds after being shoved by Jason Terry’s forearm. It might have been a frustration foul, but it was blatant and certainly uncalled for.
The sequence that unfolded was shocking, but not altogether detrimental to last night’s game or the Lakers moving forward. I would argue that it showed their toughness and togetherness and let the league know that they won’t stand for being manhandled on the court.
I saw a different Steve Blake last night and was pleasantly surprised with the Steve 2.0 version. He was driving in the lane looking to score for once, as well as pass, and got right in Jason Terry’s face after being pushed to the ground. I thought of him as the type ofplayer who would calmly walk away and make his free throws, but I was proud to see him stand up for himself and jaw back. It was good to see an aggressive side of him because that’s what this team needs moving forward.