Written by: Steven Almazan
There was doubt in the minds of the Lakers after Kobe had missed the game-winning shot in Game 1 of the series. Had Kobe lost his touch? Had Dirk surpassed Kobe as the league’s best clutch shooter? Kobe had a mission to even the series at 1 – 1, but Nowitzki and the hungry Mavericks had other plans for the champions.
Kobe started his mission by sharing the ball more often than his previous performance in Game 1. He initially looked for other players as opposed to creating space for his own shot, but he ended the game with 3 assists. His shooting percentage from the field was less effective than the previous game as he scored 45 % from the field for 23 points.
Unfortunately, the frontcourt of the Lakers still did not arrive to the series as Bynum, Gasol and Odom were beaten by the frontcourt of the Mavs. The Mavericks present a formidable size matchup against the Lakers with Nowitzki, Chandler, and Haywood, and they went blow-for-blow with the Lakers big men. The three 7-footers for the Mavs were too big as they dominated the glass with a combined 23 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Tyson Chandler has taken advantage of the opportunity he has with the Mavericks by making the most in this postseason. After suffering multiple disappointing seasons with the New Orleans Hornets, he displayed his dominance in Game 2 by capitalizing on multiple alley-oops from the Mavericks backcourt. He has been an effective player for the Mavericks, and if they hope to win this series, he will need to continue to demonstrate his dominant play.
Dirk Nowitzki built off the success he had in Game 1 by hitting most of his signature fade-away shots over the lengthy Lakers. The Lakers could only gaze under his rainbow shooting as he made 11 of 22 shots for 28 points. Nowitzki is slowly surpassing Kobe as the best clutch shooter in the league, and he continues to demonstrate an MVP-like performance throughout this series.
The bench of the Mavericks once again played more effectively than the Lakers bench throughout the game as they had a 30 – 12 point advantage. Even though the Lakers bench hoped to be more effective than the loaded Mavericks, the Killer B’s were less than stellar as Brown, Barnes, and Blake only produced 6 points and 5 assists. Steve Blake played terribly throughout the entire night, throwing inconceivable passes and shooting tough shots. His play reflected the performance from the Lakers bench, and it required them to rely on Odom once again.
The Mavericks had a better night behind the arch as they scored 8 for 24. The Laker players struggled from long-range as they ended the night with a 2 for 20 performance, shooting only 10% from the field. Even though the Lakers rely on most of their points from Kobe and their big men, they still need to make shots from the 3-point line to catch up with the Mavericks. The Lakers were only able to score one 3-pointer for the night, and it was toward the end of the game when it was already pointless. The fans gave Kobe an enormous round of applause for his 3-point shot, but it was more sarcastic than joyous.
In addition to the terrible three-point shooting, the Lakers were unable to take advantage of their points on the free throw line. The Lakers reached the charity stripe almost as many times as the Mavericks but they were unable to capitalize by scoring only 11 of 20, as opposed to the Mavs who scored 17 of 21.
The Mavs displayed great ball movement throughout the entire game as they found open shooters, and the Lakers were stagnant as the players waited for Bryant to score. Even though Kobe attempted to go shot-for-shot with Nowitzki, his size and shot accuracy were too effective down the stretch. In the 4th quarter, Nowitzki was able to make an impossible one footed shot over the lengthy Gasol and was also fouled on the play. This has been the story for the entire series, and the Lakers still cannot find an answer to this huge problem.
J.J. Barea was the small dagger that was driven in the Lakers’ chest for the night. His quick speed and small body confused the Lakers, as he widened the defense and easily drove to the basket to convert multiple baskets. The Lakers have consistently shown their inability to guard small and quick point guards, and Barea was no different.
The ejection of Ron Artest at the end of the game reflected the frustration of not only the Laker players, but also the fans of the Staples Center. They continuously waited for a turning point throughout the fourth quarter, but all they received was a disappointing performance by a team that demonstrated no motivation. The fans showered the court with boos as the Lakers lazily played out the end of the game, throwing awful passes and shooting multiple air-balls.
The veteran bodies of the Lakers are too tired after three consecutive trips to the Finals, and their dreadful performance in Game 2 showed their unwillingness to make another trip. Phil Jackson’s face toward the end of the game was very nonchalant and unworried, as he knew that he has done more than enough to prove his excellence as a coach with 11 rings. Even though Laker fans expect their team to win every single postseason series, this postseason has proven more than difficult for them.
At the end of regulation, the Mavericks had won 93 – 81 and found themselves up 2 – 0 in the series with home court advantage. After the game, Mark Cuban’s mouth slowly widened giving off the biggest smirk a billionaire can give. His face summed up the feelings that every Maverick fan has been waiting to experience. They finally have the opportunity to redeem their previous disappointing early exits from the postseason by advancing to the Western Conference Finals.