Lakers Nation Running Diary: Game 3 vs. Mavs Party at ESPN Zone

The afternoon began with such promise, such hope. In my heart of hearts I truly believed that if the Lakers had won Game 3 they could have taken the series. And when they stretched the lead to 8 in the fourth quarter I just knew they were going to pull it off… until they didn’t. This is my story.

3:56 pm:

I turn the ignition to my car. Blind Melon’s No Rain is just beginning to play on the radio. I can’t tell if this is a sign about jumpers not going in or not. I promise myself not to look too deeply into it.

4:20 pm:

Traffic on the 110 is not as bad as I expected. Neither is the outlook of the callers that Mason and Ireland are letting get on the air. To a man everyone expects the Lakers to win tonight’s game. Frankly, so do I.

4:45 pm:

I arrived early at the Zone and decide to get a drink at the downstairs bar. As I’m watching the Bulls – Hawks game I hear five words I never believed someone would ever say in succession: Assistant Coach Nick Van Exel. I wonder if he’s an intern or if they actually pay him.

5:25 pm:

After nursing a pint of Papst’s Blue Ribbon (I asked the lady bartender what was on special and that was the only choice I was given) I head upstairs to the 19th Hole where the LN party is about get started.

5:30 pm

The lady bartender up here informs me they won’t start serving alcohol until 6 pm because that’s when the party officially starts. I shriek in horror but soon enough the situations resolves itself and I am poured a 24 oz mug of beer. Disaster averted.

5:40 pm to 6:30 pm

I chat with some of the other Lakers Nation staff and enjoy the free wings and chicken strips. Definitely hitting the spot. Gary, the owner of LN, comes over and mingles with us. We talk social media and plot world domination. A good preface to a Lakers victory, I say.

6:42 pm:

Tip time. It’s true, Lamar Odom is starting. Part of me is scared out of my wits. The other part of me is also scared but at least retaining a few of my mental faculties.

6:46 pm

The Lakers are picking up tons of fouls on the Mavericks in the first two minutes. This should be a parade to the free throw line.

6:50 pm:

Deshawn Stevenson hits a 3 pointer. He doesn’t bank it in. I’m not sure it should count.

6:52 pm:

The Lakers look spirited to start. Gasol hits a put back to make it 14 – 10 with 6:48 left in the 1st quarter. Carlisle calls for time.

6:56 pm:

Kobe has picked up two fouls and is now out of the game. In the blink of an eye Dirk goes on a 9 – 2 run entirely by himself. First an and 1, then a WIDE open 3 pointer. Then another. How does he get that open again? HOW I ASK YOU?!?

7:05 pm

Lakers respond. For as well as the Mavs are shooting from outside, Lakers are owning the paint. LA up 24 – 20

A Chandler flop leads to Bynum’s second foul. He takes a seat on the bench next to Kobe. Dallas promptly goes on a 9 – 0 run. This whole game is turning out to be back and forth mini runs. Whoever gets in the last good spurt may be the victor.

7:07 pm

After one quarter Lakers are down 29 – 27. Not the best start. Not the worst. They need to pick up their perimeter D. Too many open looks. Goods news is all the points in the paint. Lakers refusing to settle for 3’s.

7: 15 pm

Dallas is shooting 56% from the field. Kind of a mellow energy in the room. Too much like an early arriving Staples Center crowd. We need something to kick start the energy.

7:16 pm to 7:39 pm

Shannon Brown surprises us by hitting a 3 then making a nice move to the basket. Dirk, though, is playing like an MVP. Mavs up 41 – 38.

During a break the Baron Davis Blake Griffin Kia car commercial plays. Not even that impressive a dunk. At least it’s better than the T-Mobil guy who raps. Ugh.

7:40 pm

Lakers making a push. Bynum jumps the passing lane and takes it the distance for the two handed stuff. Might be the play of the night. I feel the energy shifting!  Throw it down big man! THROW IT DOWN!  Lakers 48 – 45.

7:45 pm

Halftime. Lakers are up 51 – 47. I feel cautiously optimistic. We haven’t played our best basketball of the series so far. Hopefully we can push the lead out in the second half and not have to sweat this one.

During the intermission the mood is pretty upbeat. Lakers Nation staff do some trivia and award prizes. I keep hearing the little dude on the microphone scream out, “Panini Cards!” At first I thought they were gift certificates for subway before I realized that they were actually basketball trading cards. Not sure about that name. The Lakers Nation t-shirts are pretty sweet though!

8:06 pm

The second half begins with another wide open 3 by Dirk. SO WIDE OPEN. Ridiculous. Gasol comes back and scores in the paint. Jeff Van Gundy wonders aloud why they don’t just do this every time because good things always seem to happen. I’m amazed as well.

8:11 pm

Fisher drills a 3 to extend the lead to 58 – 51. I start a ‘Let’s go Lakers’ chant and the crowd follows. Carlisle must hear us all the way in Dallas because he calls for time. I have a good feeling about this.

8:14 pm

Mavericks nail two consecutive 3’s out of the timeout. Mike Breen gushes over Dirk, and rightfully so. Lead erased to one.  So deflating. This game is back and forth and you can feel already that it’s going to be a dog fight till the end.

8:20 pm

Gasol is looking Charmin soft. I comment to one of the other Lakers Nation writers that he looks like the Lion from The Wizard of Oz. No heart.

8:22 pm

Phil apparently agrees with me. He’s screaming at Pau during a timeout. Never seen that before. Hope it works.

8:23 pm

Tied at 62. Damn this is tense. I wonder if there are any chicken strips left.

8:26 pm

Bynum is taking it to another level. Beautiful catch off the pick and roll, one power dribble, spin and finish with the left hand. JVG puts it in his top ten fundamental, whatever the hell that is.

8:29 pm

Two Lakers layups push the lead to four. Mark Cuban is shown on the screen. Lakers Nation all boos in unison.

8:30 pm

LA leads by 6 at the end of 3 quarters.

8:32 pm

Damn. Peja thinks it’s 2002. The regular season. He’s got his legs and his stroke tonight.

8:43 pm

Lakers will not back down. Bynum with an and 1 then Brown with a nice drive and finish. Lakers by 8 early in the fourth quarter. Lakers Nation is chanting DE-FENSE as they come back down court. I’ve got a good feeling about things now.

8:47 pm

Both teams going through a serious dry spell, just as it happened in Game 2. This time, though, the Lakers have a decent lead. If they can start knocking in some shots they could extend this thing out. 7:32 left in the fourth. Kobe is still resting… why?

8:53 pm

Peja drills another 3. How are we leaving guys this wide open?!? Lead cut to five.

8:54 pm

Kobe is back in. He knocks in a couple clutch baskets but Dallas won’t go away. It’s nervous time.

8:56 pm

Gasol misses a tough, contested jumper. Peja sticks another 3. Kobe tries a jump pass but turns it over then compounds it with a foul. Kidd knocks in two free throws. I hope this isn’t slipping away. 87 – 86 Lakers.

8:58 pm

Dirk has the ball on the right wing. He makes a fake, ducks in baseline and draws a foul… yikes. Mavericks take the lead on his makes. 88 – 87.

9:00 pm

Another three! This time by Terry. There was no one within 10 feet of him. Mavs up 91 – 89 with 2:00 left

9:01 pm

Lamar responds with a 6 foot banker, but Dirk comes right back. This is coming down to the last shot.

9:02 pm

They try to isolate Lamar on the wing against a smaller player. He looks confused, like Khloe just asked him to put away his laundry. NO! He misses a tough 10 footer. How did Kobe not get the ball here?!? Mavs up two with a minute to go.

9:04 pm

Peja misses a jumper with the shot clock running down but Terry gets the offensive rebound. The clocks gets all the way down to 18 seconds before Fisher commits a stupid foul closing out on Terry. Worst possible scenario. This is NOT good. Terry drills the FT’s, 95 – 91 Mavs.

9:05 pm

Desperation time. Maybe a quick two for Gasol or a three for Kobe. Instead Fisher tries to lob it into the corner for Lamar. Turnover! NO!

Lakers have to foul. Terry goes to the line and makes it a six point game with 16 seconds left

That was probably the game.

9:06 pm

(expletive deleted)

9:08 pm

Final score, Mavs 98 – Lakers 92. Mavs up 3 – 0 in the series.

I don’t know what to say. I really felt like midway through the fourth quarter the Lakers were going to win the game. Their confidence seem to be building and Kobe was rested…

In the end the Mavericks took it to them. Dirk made plays and Peja nailed shots. They deserved to win.

The Lakers allowed way too many open three point shots (due to some terrible defensive breakdowns), Pau Gasol never really got it going and the parade to the free throw line that should have been never materialized. I was astounded to look at the box after the game and find L.A. only shot 14 free throws. And that wasn’t on the officials. Total lack of aggression.

In any case, thanks to all the fans who came out and showed support for their team and for Lakers Nation. I really had a great time, you know, right up until the part where we lost. Technically there is still a snow ball’s chance in hell that they can comeback so I’ll refrain from writing my official obituary to the season until (at least) after Sunday, but it feels like the ink is about to hit the page on that one. Hopefully I’m wrong.

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