The last time the Lakers and Mavericks met on March 31, 2011, a battle ensued. As Steve Blake drove to the basket, he had the ball knocked out of bounds, the same direction that he was heading after some defensive contact. But this wasn’t any defensive contact, it was a shove from Dallas’ Jason Terry, expressing the real frustration of being down 17 in the fourth quarter against a team the Mavericks had been competing with for second seed in the closing weeks of the season. Steve Blake retaliated, got into Terry’s face, and after the referees tried to separate the two athletes, Matt Barnes made his presence known with a counter shove on Terry.
The following scuffle, confrontations, and even retaliation by Barnes who was being held by Dallas assistant coach Terry Stotts lead to the ejections of Lakers Barnes and Blake and Mavericks Terry and Hayward. Reggie Miller stated as the players walked to the showers, “if the playoffs were to start today, and both of these teams won their first round match ups, this is where it all started”.
Monday night the Lakers played host to the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, Game 1 of the second round match up in the NBA playoffs. This series began continuation of the scuffles and tenacity both teams had showed to each other throughout the season, and Game 1 would surely set the tone of the following games. While the Lakers had the upperhand in the season, beating the Mavericks in two of their three meetings, LA’s first round performance against the Hornets proved that their play during season means nothing when it’s playoff time.
The game started with TNT broadcasting the National Anthem, in regards to President Obama’s announcement the night before.
The Lakers started the game with impressive ball movement, when an offensive rebound by Pau Gasol fed Kobe Bryant the first two points of the game. Dirk Nowitzki immediately responded with a jumper, while having Gasol’s hand in his face. Kobe hit his second of the night, a nice deep three followed by a strong hook shot. Bryant opened the game with the Lakers first seven points, while Nowitzki had the Mavericks four. Multiple rebounds by Pau Gasol kept the ball in Los Angeles territory, followed with him getting his first two of the night.
Tyson Chandler, a local product from Compton, but his name on the board with a reverse layup to put Dallas within three. Andrew Bynum was unable to get his first few attempts to go, but his efforts on defense kept the Lakers in the lead in the first six minutes of the game. A few misses by both teams and the beginning of some slower paced basketball was completely turned around by Derek Fisher, who drained a three pointer to put the lakers up four, sending both teams to the benches for a Dallas full timeout. Stojakovic and Nowitzki continued to hit their shots, but Gasol turned on as well, hitting back to back attempts, making it a real game between Pau and Dirk.
Bryant had a tremendous start, continuing to hit important shots while having a Dallas hand in his face. Phil Jackson’s concern from Kobe missing multiple practices in the week due to his ankle seemed over analyzed.
The Mavericks took the lead with three minutes remaining with back to back three-pointers, made by both Kidd and Terry, putting the game at 21-19. Numerous defensive breakdowns by Los Angeles and some offensive breakthroughs by Dallas not only kept the Mavs in the game, but allowed them to become dominant as the quarter came to a close. New energy from the Lakers bench, including Odom, Blake, Barnes, and Brown put pressure on Dallas’ defense. In conclusion, the bench prevented the Mavericks from pulling away, even though the Mavs finished the quarter on a 10-4 run. The first came to a close with Dallas up two, 25-23.
Although Andrew Bynum started the second with no points on the board, his assist to Lamar Odom allowed the Lakers to tie the game within the first minute of the second. Another pair of Nowitzki and Terry jumpers kept Dallas ahead. A lucky bounce off of a Mavs mistake allowed him to get the steal, throwing up a layup to keep them in the game. But Dallas continued to gain confidence, while a three from Barea put their lead up to five.
The Lakers bench gave away too many turnovers in the opening minutes. Although the Lakers were towards the bottom of the league in regards to fast break points, Shannon Brown rushed to the other end of the court off of a defensive rebound to put up another layup.
Andrew Bynum was finally found on offense after an officials timeout, as he made his first basket of the game off an inbound play to Gasol, who performed a quick pass to Bynum in the paint, putting the Lakers within three. Dallas continued to look in good shape on the offensive end of the floor, until Barnes stripped Barea of the ball, seeming to set the tone for how the bench should be performing. Another great feed from Gasol to Bynum gave Los Angeles another easy basket, proving to be the one thing the Mavericks couldn’t stop in the second quarter.
Some aggressive basketball and the Lakers getting some rebounds finally put the game within one off of Kobe Bryant with just under five minutes remaining in the half. The Lakers size proved to be important, as their second chance attempts vs the Mavericks were 10-2. A three point play by Fisher put the Lakers up two with 90 seconds remaining. Words were then exchanged by Gasol and Chandler , resulting in a technical foul for each, forcing both players to play smarter so they didn’t end up like Paul Pierce did the night before in Game 1 versus the Heat.
While both teams gave away multiple turnovers in the half, the Mavs being over the limit in the remaining two minutes sent the Lakers to the line multiple times, enabling them to take the lead as the buzzer sounded. While Jason Terry started off for the Mavericks 4-5, and Dirk Nowitzki continued making impressive shots, important baskets from Brown, Barnes and Odom on top of 12 from Kobe and 8 from Gasol made this a back and forth game in the first 24 minutes. The Lakers also dominated with points in the paint 30-14 and rebounds 26-17.
When we all believed the half would end with the Lakers ahead off a 9-2 run, Lamar Odom made a half court attempt while being fouled by Jason Terry, sending him to the line for three free throws.Odom made all three shots, putting the Lakers lead up to eight, when all of a sudden Dirk Nowitzki elbowed Ron Artest in the back of the head, getting called for a technical. Kobe made the extra point, ending the quarter up nine, 53-44.
The Mavericks came back onto the court hoping to improve upon the lack of composure they had to end the half, and didn’t start the quarter the way they wanted. Two quick turnovers allowed the Lakers to capitalize, taking their lead up to 13, and 18-2 run by the Lakers since the second. A drained three by Bryant pushed the lead even farther, forcing Dallas to call a time out and try to gain back the gameplay which brought them to the second round.
Andrew Bynum swatted away the Mavericks first shot attempt of the half, making it seem like Dallas was physically incapable of making a basket. Nowitzki finally knocked down a jumper with just under 10 minutes remaining in the half, making the free throw to gain a three point play. Andrew Bynum, who had a stellar first round series, began playing big on both ends of the court, posting up and making a nice basket to keep the Lakers up. The Mavericks began gaining momentum from Lakers poor offensive execution, bringing the Lakers lead down to only eight with a 10-2 run of their own.
Kobe Bryant shut that down with a nice jumper, as it seemed that no one wanted to job of defending the five time NBA champ. Multiple misses by the Lakers from outside the arc gave the Mavericks the opportunities they needed. When it seemed LA were doing so well offensively when they drove into the paint, they continued taking difficult outside shots, proving toxic. They finally began finding Bynum again, slowing the game down and drawing multiple fouls. When LA decided to find the players posting rather than finding the outside shots, they were able to not only make more baskets, but also get back to defend the Mavericks, and completely shut down any fast break points.
Dirk Nowitzki, with 17 points, brought the lead down to three, as LA’s silly mistakes allowed the Mavs to get right back in the game. Phil Jackson called a time out as Dallas was going on a 17-4 run.
Kobe came back onto the court with a quick jumper to put the lead up to five. More missed from Artest, followed by him committing a foul, seemed to be digging a larger and larger hole for LA on both sides of the court. Kobe then showed his true colors. He made 12 of his 27 points in the third, draining another three putting the Lakers lead up to seven. He continued to show off his footwork, strong defense and impressive shooting, even through the numerous injuries he has acquired throughout the season. Multiple turnovers then put the ball in Dallas’ hands, allowing them to get a breakaway to put the lead to three. The Black Mamba struck again, with a deep three in the closing minute to put his total up to 30.
Another three by Barea made it look like Dallas would be right behind the Lakers going into the fourth. But a smart play by Pau Gasol allowed him to draw a foul and head to the line, buffering the Lakers lead up to seven, 78-71 at the buzzer.
An un-guardable Dirk Nowitzki fade away opened the final quarter of Game 1. The Lakers second unit started the quarter on the floor, allowing the Mavs to continue making baskets and get within two with 10 minutes remaining. When the commentators were questioning where the Lakers would be getting their points, the Lakers were more concerned with stopping Dirk and Barea in the paint, which they successfully did on multiple occasions. A three from Nowitzki brought the Lakers lead to only one, as strong defense by Dallas forced Los Angeles to take difficult shots and thus lose their strong lead.
The Lakers bench needed to play strong defense and not allow the Mavericks to run away in the opening minutes, as the Lakers starters had been handling the game nicely in the past two quarters. Dallas handling every rebound opportunity single-handedly brought them back in the game, something Phil Jackson must’ve addressed in the Lakers time out. Shannon Brown gained a bucket from a Matt Barnes assist, followed by a nice reverse layup by Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom. Phil Jackson continued to show his patience and trust in the second team, while there was under seven minutes remaining, Kobe and Gasol continued to sit on the bench.
They both finally re-entered the game, just as Stojakovic made a quick basket, answered by a Kobe Bryant jumper. Odom showed his worth once again with a layup, pushing the lead up to five as the Mavericks called for another timeout. Dirk Nowitzki had another basket fall for him, keeping them nipping at the heels of the Lakers going into the final four minutes of the game. A big block by Lamar Odom kept the Mavericks from cutting the lead to one, as Kobe dropped his 34th point of the night giving the Lakers some breathing room. Jason Kidd set up an allyoop to Chandler, cutting that room once again. Two of the greatest closers of the game in Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki were giving Staples Center quite a show within the closing minutes of the game, while showing great effort by both teams on the floor.
With that said, the Lakers were depending on Kobe in the final minutes, while the rest of the offense seemed stagnant and unable to get much needed rebounds. The Mavericks kept coming, and dropped the deficit to only one. Kobe’s nice jumper with only a minute remaining buffered the lead to three, as Dallas traveled to the other end of the court.
Dallas refused to double team Kobe Bryant, resulting in Kobe easily giving the ball away to force a LA foul, putting the ball in the Mavericks hands with 20 seconds remaining while Dallas was down only one. Pau fouled Nowitzki on the inbounds play, putting Dirk on the line enabling him to give the Mavericks the one point lead, 95-94. The Lakers then had the ball with 19.5 seconds left. Kidd fouled Kobe, and Jason Kidd stole the ball on the inbounds play, and was sent to the line where he made one. Dallas was up 96-94 with three seconds remaining, and the Lakers had one timeout left, which they took.
Kobe Bryant got the inbound pass from Fisher, turned for a three and couldn’t execute. The buzzer sounded, and the Mavericks beat the Lakers by two, 96-94. The Dallas Mavericks perform a comeback, ending the game on a 10-2 run in the final three minutes. The Lakers host Game 2 Thursday at 7:30 PCT.[phpbay]Los Angeles Lakers, 3, “”, “”[/phpbay]