Dirk Nowitzki was more of a quiet contributor for the night as he only posted 17 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. However, the Mavs’ benched propelled the team to the finish line. It was just one of the those nights for the Mavs bench where everything was connecting; the Dallas reserves combined to make an astonishing 86 points.
The volume of points is not the most shocking part of this statistic; it is the fact that this is the same amount of points that the entire Lakers team scored.
In addition to the Mavericks’ bench, the entire team displayed an extraordinary effort as they converted on 60% of their field goals, in comparison to the Lakers who only converted on 37%. The Mavs also continued their magical stroke of long-range for the series by making 20 of 32 three-point buckets for the night. The Lakers could not catch up to the Mavs and they only connected on five three-pointers. The long-range shot and the bench seemed to be the separation from the two teams the entire series, and this night proved no different.
The Lakers front-court of Gasol and Bynum was once again ineffective throughout Game 4, as they only comprised to make 16 points and grab 14 rebounds. Gasol and Bynum were expected to make a presence on the court in order to turn this series around, but that was not the case as the Mavs defense swarmed their 7-foot bodies and stopped their efforts.
The only impact that any of these players made was during the 4th quarter when Bynum intentionally and forcefully elbowed the smaller J.J. Barea as he attempted a lay-up. The Dallas fans rose to their foot and immediately roared obscenities toward the Laker bench and Bynum. In addition to this unthinkable decision by Bynum, Odom shoved Dirk Nowitzki toward the ground during the 4th quarter due to his building frustration of the Lakers’ evident early exit.
Both Gasol and Bynum were rightfully ejected from the game in order to avoid any further altercations between the Lakers and the Mavericks. These two acts of frustration embodied the personality of the Lakers for this entire post-season, as they could not successfully find their identity as a team.
In the end, the Mavericks crushed the Lakers 122 – 86 and completed their sweep of the once intimidating champions. This was a classless and pathetic effort by the Lakers, and hopefully each player who does return for next season will view this series as a learning experience.
Many changes will need to be made during the offseason in order to realign their values and find their true identity as a team. A team cannot chase a championship title unless they have a solid understanding of who they are as a collective group, and the Lakers clearly need to have some soul searching this summer if they want to find themselves in the grasp of another title.[phpbay]Lakers Jersey, 3, “”[/phpbay]