Even though the Lakers were dominating the paint, Dallas was able to erase a 10 point deficit and keep the game within four at the half. They started the game shooting 0 for 7 from downtown and went on a tear where they hit 7 of 8 by the end of the second quarter. Their game is based on rebounding and transition basketball, and hitting open jumpers. For their part, the Lakers needed to concentrate not necessarily on scoring, but on getting quality shots so they could cut down on the Mavericks’ chance of playing the game their way. The Lakers played much better disciplined offense in general; there weren’t any random shots, the ball movement was good and the execution was improved. Everyone stayed within the triangle and it paid dividends with them shooting 56% for the half. They were able to dictate the pace and make the Mavericks actually defend them.
Things took a turn for the worse in the 3rd quarter. Tyson Chandler, who left in the second quarter due to a return of his flu symptoms, came back and provided an energy boost and presence on the floor. The momentum had already begun to shift once Dallas began hitting so many threes. I would argue the real killer, though, was the discrepancy in bench points. Both teams were pretty even in rebounding, assists, and field goal percentage, and the Lakers had more points in the paint, but the Mavericks ended the game with twice as many bench points as the Lakers. This is where the absence of Matt Barnes and the continued shooting woes of Shannon Brown, not to mention the lack of aggression shown by Steve Blake, hurt us. Lamar had 20 of our 26 bench points!
In any case, the Lakers held on to the lead for most of the third, with Fisher being aggressive and stepping into jumpers instead of automatically passing the ball. Kobe got a beautiful left handed layup to add 10 points to his 7 assists, still playing the role of facilitator. Pau showed versatility with his left handed shots as well, and so did Ron: he hit a straightaway three from the top of the arc! I didn’t know he could shoot from anywhere but the corner.
Unfortunately, turnovers played a big role in L.A’s demise, with 6 in the third quarter compared to 3 in the entire first half. Jason Kidd had a stellar night, reaching a season high 18 points on a three that put the Mavericks ahead. I hadn’t realized that Kidd is third all time in NBA history for most 3 point field goals made, only behind Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. He is also 2nd all time in steals and 4th all time in assists. Needless to say, Jason was in the midst of another career night. The quarter ended with a 17-2 Dallas run, and they never looked back.
Next: Still a solid effort.