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Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant had good things to say about the Mavericks after Dallas’ electric Game 4 performance that tied an NBA playoffs record for three-point shots made and ended Jackson’s career in an unflattering manner.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team play to that level in a series in a game like they played this afternoon. They were terrific.
Perhaps Dallas is a little deeper team, a little more talented off the bench than we were, and it came to bear during the course of these playoffs.
You have to put the credit in the right place, which is in the Mavs’ locker room. They played extremely well. They executed extremely well, their spacing was excellent, they shot the ball extremely well. Their depth hurt us. Every night it was another player stepping up and performing and making big plays. So the credit belongs with them.
Bryant also said that he hated to see the dirty fouls late in the game. See his entire press conference below.
In case you didn’t see the game Sunday, here is video of Andrew Bynum’s dirty elbow to an airborn J.J. Barea late in Game 4.
The play came with the Lakers 30 points behind with 8:21 remaining, just seconds after Lamar Odom had been ejected for a less egregious shove of Dirk Nowitzki. Barea drove the lane and was in the air attempting a layup as Bynum body blocked him elbow first and sent him flying to the ground sideways. Like Odom, Bynum received a “flagrant 2” foul which meant an immediate ejection and likely a suspension to begin the 2011-12 season.
Ron Artest was ejected in Game 2 for a flagrant shot to Barea’s face when that game was out of hand late. He was suspended for Game 3 as a result.
Rick Carlisle had plenty to say after his team’s blowout 122-86 win over the two-time defending champs Sunday afternoon. Here were some of his thoughts.
On how they beat the Lakers:
The three-point shot is a big part of the game now. It’s been a big part of the success that we’ve been able to have, but more importantly we guarded them.
On their approach to facing LA in the second round:
There were multiple teams that didn’t play their guys down the stretch of the season to avoid the possibility of playing LA [in the early rounds]. We did not do that. We kept playing and we kept winning because we felt that winning games and gaining momentum was the best way to win a championship and deep down felt that if you’re going to beat LA the best chance to do it is in the second round.
On how satisfied he is with this series win:
We’ll be satisfied when we have a ring. It would be my first coaching ring, so all of us are in this together. We don’t have anyone in that lockerroom that has a ring, so we’re all going for the same thing.
On Phil Jackson:
His contributions to the game have been gigantic. My belief is that he’ll retire for a while, but I don’t know how long you can go to Montana and meditate and … smoke peyote or whatever he does there. He’s gonna get bored, and I mean that in an endearing way. But we’re talking about the greatest coach in the history of our game. I was drafted by Red Auerbach. I was around Red Auerbach for three or four years, and I know the magnitude of what he accomplished, but what Phil has done is ridiculous.
See the entire postgame press conference here.
A win Sunday over the Lakers in Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference Semifinal would be a landmark result for the Mavericks. First and foremost, they would clinch just their fourth conference finals appearance in franchise history. It would be their first series win over the Lakers in four tries. It would also be just their second series sweep. Their one previous sweep was over a potential conference finals opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies, back in the first round of their 2006 Finals run.
They are already the first team to take the first three games of a series from Phil Jackson in his 53 playoff sets, so a sweep would be his first and could send him to retirement on that low note. Tactically, they would give their veteran team extra rest while the youthful Grizzlies and Thunder battle for the other spot.
All of that is attainable today for the Mavericks, but they will have to beat a two-time defending champion that is wounded, cornered, and desperate. The Lakers will have Ron Artest back, so they are back to a full lineup, while the Mavericks have basically ruled out Caron Butler for the remainder of the playoffs.
To knock out the champs, Dallas will have to keep Kobe Bryant in check as they have for the past two games, avoid a full game of domination from Andrew Bynum, and hope that Pao Gasol and LA’s complementary players continue not to step up. With Artest back, the Lakers figure to offer more of a challenge to the Mavericks’ three-point shooters, but will give back a little of the inside dominance that saw their front court trio of Bynum, Gasol and Lamar Odom lead a 56-20 advantage in the paint.
The Mavs have seen shooters step up in each game to help Dirk Nowitzki, with Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and Juan Barea taking turns. They will need step-up performers today and could need to lean on Jason Kidd as the Lakers sag off of the one guy who hasn’t hurt them with perimeter shooting.
Tip is 2:30 CDT in Dallas, and the game can be seen on ABC.
Once again, the Mavericks were aided by a fourth quarter comeback. Dallas outscored Los Angeles 32-20 in the fourth and decisive quarter, led by Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki was 12 of 19 from the field tonight, including four for five from three point range, and was four for four in free throws en route to scoring 32 points. Nowitzki added nine rebounds - all defensive boards as well, finishing up just shy of a double-double.
Jason Terry contributed for the Mavericks off the bench, scoring 23 points and shooting 70% (seven for ten) from the field.
Dallas held Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant to 17 points in Game 3, as he shot just 50% (eight of 16) from the field. Andrew Bynum led the Lakers in scoring as he scored 21 points and also hauled in 10 rebounds.
It is worth noting that no team in NBA history has come back after losing the first three games of a series, meaning the Los Angeles Lakers are all but dead. Still, the Mavericks do need to win one more game out of the next four in order to move onto the Western Conference finals.
Game 4 will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CDT as the Mavericks look to sweep the Lakers an advance to the Western Conference finals.
The Mavericks find themselves in a vaguely familiar position after wrestling away two Western Conference semifinal games in the Staples Center. They’ve taken 2-0 series leads and blown them – most famously in the 2006 NBA Finals. They’ve been down 2-0 and come back to win. They’ve never been in exactly this spot – they’ve never won Games 1 & 2 on the road, and they’ve never even won a Game 1 against the Lakers – but the lessons learned in those series still apply. Dallas is in a strong position, but they’re facing a championship team with its back to the wall, and a slip in Game 3 puts the series right back in toss-up territory.
The Lakers left their locker room after Game 2 seemingly in disarray. The Mavs had come back to beat them in Game 1 on the strength of Dirk Nowitzki and clutch defense, so the Lakers knew what they needed to solve in Game 2 and were unable to figure things out. After the game, Andrew Bynum talked of deeply rooted trust issues and Phil Jackson had to answer questions about his crowd booing Pao Gasol.
Jackson said that LA was confident that their shooting touch would return and that he was more concerned about a defense that had struggled to deal with penetration from Dallas guards and that seemed to have no answer for Dirk Nowitzki. With the series on a day-on, day-off schedule and Thursday as a travel day, the Lakers haven’t had a lot of time to address their defensive issues.
They will try to eliminate easy penetration, just as they did in the first round after Chris Paul hurt them early. They hope to slow Nowitzki at the same time, and they won’t have Ron Artest as an defensive option in Game 3 after he was suspended for his shot to J.J. Barea late in Game 2. At the same time, they will look to improve on dreadful three-point shooting and to exploit their offensive mismatches.
Game 3 can be found on ESPN at 8:30 CDT. To discuss the game live with other Mavericks fans as you watch, check out Mavs Moneyball.
The NBA has reviewed Ron Artest’s clothesline of J.J. Barea’s face in the closing seconds of the Mavericks’ 93-81 win in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal. It was Artest’s second technical foul of the game, and the forward was ejected.
Artest’s absence affects a Lakers lineup lacking depth. He has struggled early in this series after being one of LA’s most consistent players in their first round series win against the Hornets. Without Artest, the Lakers will either have to bump sixth man Lamar Odom into the starting lineup or will force Shannon Brown or Matt Barnes to start and see more minutes.
For more reaction on Artest’s suspension and the Mavericks’ 2-0 lead, check out Mavs Moneyball.
The Mavericks have a commanding 2-0 lead as their second round series moves back to Dallas, with a chance to close out the two-time defending champs without having to head back to Los Angeles. But let's not get too far ahead ourselves, and enjoy this Game 2 win. And nobody is enjoying it more than the guys over at our Mavericks blog, Mavs Money Ball. They conclude their wrapup of the game with a plea to the other fans to make Game 3 on Friday an intimidating atmosphere for the Lakers.
Dallas looked like the aggressors for a majority of the game, even when the score was tied. Everyone worked hard on offense, but Dirk worked noticeably harder while setting picks that freed his teammates and himself for better shots. The Lakers fought back at the end, but it was too late. Dallas stunned Kobe and company while wresting a 2-0 series lead before going home. Game 3 is in Dallas on Friday. It had better be loud.
Don't look now, but the Dallas Mavericks have won two games at the Staples Center, and hold a commanding 0-2 lead as the series shifts back to Dallas. If anyone said that Game 1 was kind of a fluke, let this one serve as reaffirmation. The Mavericks used a couple main principles that are tried and true in the Playoffs to win this one; defense and balanced scoring.
They held the Lakers to just 32 second half points, and had six players who registered nine points or more. Only one player, DeShawn Stevenson, registered a negative +/-, and he was just -2 over the course of 13 minutes. 12 points isn't the biggest deficit in the world, but the Mavericks beat the Lakers just about as thoroughly as you can in this one.
Our Mavericks blog Mavs Money Ball does a great job of compiling quotes from some of the key players in each game. Let's start with Jason terry, who noted the balanced scoring effort.
"DeShawn Stevenson started it off. Again, it’s been a theme throughout the playoffs, throughout the regular season. Somebody is gonna step up for us. We don’t know who it is, and someone is gonna be the unsung hero. Tonight it was DeShawn and J.J. Barea, what he did at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter, and our bigs. So, it was a collective effort. We’re a team and that’s evident."
Barea was an absolute sparkplug in this one, and his 12 points in just 17 minutes helped lead a second unit that continues to embarrass the Lakers' reserves. Terry only got nine points on just 3-12 shooting, but he got five assists and two steals.
As we said up top, the other big part of the Mavericks' attack was their defensive effort. Rick Carlisle breaks it down to the pretty pretty colors level so that we can all understand.
"For the most part we're at a stance, we're helping each other and we're scrambling. We need to have teams see a blue or white, depending on where we're playing. When we're scrambling and helping each other and have five guys in there getting rebounds we're a very good defensive team. Tonight was the kind of effort we have to have."
The Lakers shot just 2-20 from deep in Game 2. Some of that has to do with them having their own off night, but the Mavs also have to be given some credit for their ability to close out on outside shooters. Kobe shot just 9-20, Lamar Odom 3-12, and the combo of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes an abysmal 0-7. The team as a whole shot 41% from the field. It also didn't help that they went just 11-20 from the free throw stripe.
Now the Mavericks are heading to Dallas with a 2-0 lead that I'm sure not very many expected them to earn at the Staples Center. If they continue to play this brand of winning basketball, and the Lakers continue to self destruct like they have been, then the Mavs could have a chance to close this one out without getting back on a plane to Los Angeles. Game 3 is on Friday.
The result is the most important thing of course, but a moment of artistry is always significant, and Dirk Nowitzki’s one legged step back shot against Pao Gasol in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s Game 2 victory was a thing of beauty.
The basket came during the apex of the Mavericks’ run to put the game out of reach, so the moment combined with the shining example of how far Dirk has come even since taking his team to the NBA Finals in 2006.
Whatever might happen after this series aside, if Nowitzki can carry his team past the Lakers and end their attempt to give Phil Jackson his fourth three-peat, that accomplishment will be near the top of his playoff achievements. These last two games will be much tougher to win.
As Game 2 got out of reach late, with the Mavericks leading the Lakers by double digits with under a minute remaining, Phil Jackson opted to leave Ron Artest on the court. It wasn’t a great decision, as the volatile Artest predictably found the smallest guy on the court and clotheslined him in the face.
Artest was ejected and could face a suspension for Game 3. While Lakers fans might just as soon see Artest on the bench after limited contributions in the first two games of the series, Lakers depth issues would be further exacerbated. Phil Jackson said after seeing video of the play in his coach’s office that he would not be surprised if Artest is suspended, but he hopes that he can avoid it.
Artest is just 5-18 in the series and 1-7 from three-point range. He lobbied for the opportunity to guard Dirk Nowitzki in Game 2 but was unable to slow him down. Barea had spurred a second-half run to stretch the Dallas lead and had just returned to the court after the Mavericks pulled their starters with the game in hand in the closing seconds.
The Mavericks went to Portland for Game 6 of their first round series having lost eight straight and 18 of 20 playoff road games, the last of which had been an embarrassing performance in Game 4 in which they blew a 23-point lead. They had played the Lakers in three playoff series and had never won a road game, going 0-10 overall. Consider those trends reversed.
After eking out a come-from-behind win in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal in Los Angeles, the Mavericks steadily added to a two-point halftime lead in Game 2 and won easily, 93-81. Dirk Nowitzki once again led the way with an efficient 9-16 game, good for 24 points, hitting numerous difficult shots and doing his damage from the field while reaching the line just five times.
With Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, two of the Game 1 heroes, each hitting just three field goals, it was J.J. Barea who sparked a late run to put the game out of reach, as the Mavericks stretched their lead midway through the fourth quarter to 15 points and never saw the lead reach single digits again. Barea finished with 12 points and four assists.
The Lakers got a solid game from center Andrew Bynum who scored 18 on 8-11 shooting, but Kobe Bryant was unable to take over the game when the Lakers needed an offensive boost in the second half, and the Lakers went just 2-20 from three-point range and 11-20 from the free throw line.
It is now the Lakers who face some daunting trends. They last lost the first two games of a series at home in the 1977 Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trailblazers. Portland went on to sweep that series. Just four teams in history have come back from such a hole to win a seven-game series. Game 3 back in Dallas is Friday night and will be televised on ESPN.
The Dallas Mavericks were able to come back from a 16-point deficit in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their NBA Playoff match-up, but Game 2 could see some different match-ups involving Dirk Nowitzki: Specifically, Ron Artest guarding him.
“Dirk can play,” Artest told NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper. “But I’m definitely a better defender than guys on other teams that guard him. I would say I’m a better defender. I’m not going to say that he can’t score, that I can hold him to zero points … I mean, he hits jumpers over 7-footers anyway. But there’s other things I could do to make that work in my advantage.”
And, for what it’s worth, Nowitzki doesn’t exactly seem fearful of being guarded by the shorter Artest.
“I’ve practically seen it all in this league,” Nowitzki said. “It is my 13th year. Teams have guarded me with smaller and they’ve guarded me with bigger. They’ve double-teamed me, from baseline, from top. I’ve got to be ready for everything. Sometimes I’ve got to go quick and not even wait on the double team. It’s whatever. I can adjust. The good thing is, we’ve got a lot of shooters on the team that can spread the floor for me.”
While that match-up is interesting on the offensive end, the Mavericks will also have to be at their best on the defensive end as Kobe Bryant scored 36 points in Game 1, barely missing a buzzer-beater for the win, while Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each added 15 of their own.
If the Mavericks are able to pull ahead to 2-0 against the Lakers, that’d be quite the boon for a team that didn’t even look like it’d make it past the first round in some of their games against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Game 6 of the Mavericks’ first round series with Portland was their first playoff road win since 2009. It might have opened the flood gates. Dallas pulled out a second straight Monday night, winning Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals in LA 96-94 behind 28 points and 14 rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki caused the Lakers matchup problems all night, and his two free throws with 20 seconds remaining put the Mavs ahead for good in their first Game 1 victory in four tries against the Lakers. He had help from a bench that outscored their Lakers counterparts 40-25.
Despite the good vibes, the Mavericks trailed 92-87 with just over three minutes remaining. Their defense, keyed by Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd’s on-the-ball defense of Kobe Bryant, held the Lakers to just two points the rest of the way.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in LA. The Lakers will look to rebound in a second straight series after dropping the first at home.
The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are set to begin their Western Conference Semifinal Monday night in LA. It is their first playoff matchup since the infamous - at least in Dallas - seven-game Conference Final in 1988. It was the third series in five years between the two 80's powers, all won by the Lakers. LA won conference Semifinals in 1984 and 1986 in five and six games. In the renewal of the rivalry, the Lakers have home court and are once again favored, despite even 57-25 records. The Lakers won Game 1 in those series by 43, 14 and 15, and Phil Jackson's teams have won their last 48 series when they win Game 1.
Game 1 - Mon May 2, Dallas at L.A. Lakers, 9:30 p.m. CDT, TNT
Game 2 - Wed May 4, Dallas at L.A. Lakers, 9:30 p.m. CDT, TNT
Game 3 - Fri May 6, L.A. Lakers at Dallas, TBD, ESPN
Game 4 - Sun May 8, L.A. Lakers at Dallas, 2:30 p.m. CDT, ABC
Game 5 - Tue May 10, Dallas at L.A. Lakers, TBD, TNT
Game 6 - Thu May 12, L.A. Lakers at Dallas, TBD, ESPN
Game 7 - Sun May 15, Dallas at L.A. Lakers, 2:30 p.m. CDT, ABC
Mavericks - Caron Butler will not play, Rodrigue Beaubois is expected to be available after returning for Game 6 of the Conference Quarterfinal.
Lakers - Kobe Bryant is still affected by an ankle injury but will play.
2nd seed Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)
3rd seed Dallas Mavericks (57-25)
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