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NBA Playoffs: Dallas hits, Kobe misses and Mavs make it a series

May 3, 2011, 3:10 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant missed shot Getty Images

Are these Dallas Mavericks different?

Different than the team that falls short, that so many pundits thought didn’t know how to close, that was too old or too soft. The one that keeps getting smoked in the playoffs.

Or was it just the Lakers having one of their patented lapses? Combined with Kobe missing a good look at a three to win it?

One game does not answer those questions.

But for that one game the Mavs were different enough to be able to capitalize on Lakers lapses, the Mavs were the team that held their composure down 16 (after it seemed they would melt down at the end of the first half) and kept doing what they do. They were the team that executed at the end. They got the Game 1 win 96-94 and lead the Lakers 1-0 in the best-of-seven second round matchup.

Game 2 Wednesday will be a more telling to what this series will look like going forward. Don’t expect another Lakers collapse (and just 15 points in the fourth quarter). But for a night, Dallas was good enough.

One play summed it up pretty well. With 23 seconds left and the Lakers up one, Kobe Bryant tried to drive. But waiting for him was one of the people who makes Dallas different — Tyson Chandler. Kobe tried to make a kick-out pass to Derek Fisher that Jason Terry stole.

“He drove right and Tyson (Chandler) did a good job of cutting him off, Jason Kidd put his hands up and he couldn’t really see, and I was in the right position where he usually gets those threes, those dagger threes, and thank God I was there to make a steal….

“In years prior Kobe probably would have made a dunk or layup (Terry said of Chandler’s play).”

It was the Lakers making the mistakes in the clutch — a foolish foul by Pau Gasol, a turnover when Kobe fell on a poorly executed set, a missed game winner by Kobe off a good look — while Dallas made their free throws and shots.

Phil Jackson was very much in “the Lakers blew it” camp.

“We went in the locker room and we gave it away,” he said post game. “I’m not sure Dallas didn’t outplay us, but I just felt like we gave it away. A couple misplays on the offensive end and the foul at the end (by Gasol) to put them on the line kind of makes it difficult to win those kind of games.”

The Lakers built their lead by getting the ball inside — as Hoopdata tells us the Lakers shot 17-for-26 at rim, 19-for-58 elsewhere else. In the second half once they went up by 16 on a Kobe three the Lakers rushed their offense and kept looking for more daggers. As if you can get those in the third quarter. They stopped throwing the ball inside (they had no points in the paint the final 9 minutes of the third quarter). The offense suffered.

Dallas settled for jumpers much of the game — they as a team are so willing to do that — but with good ball movement and some effort to get shots in transition (aided by all those missed Lakers jumpers) they got good looks. Dallas hit 9-of-20 from three (45 percent) and a combined 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) from 10-to-23 feet.

The Lakers to a man talked of missed rotations — they kept Dallas out of the paint by and large but did not contest those looks.

Dallas took advantage and hit their shots.

Is that because Dallas has evolved into the kind of team that could win this series? Or is it because the Lakers just had an off night and they can play better defense?

We know the Lakers will have these lapses. They are standard for them now. But this is one of the few times Dallas has been able to capitalize. Can they do that three more times?

The only thing we do know for sure — this is a series now. Dallas has won on the road and there will be no easy path out for either side.

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  1. passerby23 - May 3, 2011 at 3:31 AM

    Maybe it’s a little of both. Tyson Chandler gives the Mavs an element they haven’t had in previous years. The story may still be if the Lakers show up and execute as they can, they should win the series. If Caron Butler was playing, maybe it’s edge Dallas. I still like the Lakers in 6 games.

  2. budrow - May 3, 2011 at 6:03 AM

    passerby23

    I agree, Caron Butler would make a huge difference but I still believe Dallas can pull this one out. Dirk is unable to be guarded. He looked comfortable no matter who was on him. I also was at fault for writing Tyson Chandler off when he was sent to the Bobcats, the dude can ball. I’m happy Jason Kidd finally has someone to throw alley oops to again. Chandler is a beast!

  3. ginnitti - May 3, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Chandler is fixating himself as a hot commodity entering free agency this offseason. If Dallas continues to win, look for Mark Cuban to extend him before this postseason wraps. He’s already making $12.75 million this year – could he be a max contract player in 2011? http://www.spotrac.com/nba/dallas-mavericks/tyson-chandler/

  4. omniusprime - May 3, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    The Repeat World Champion Lakers have the Mavs right where they want them, a game up and deluding the idiot pundits into thinking they have a chance. The Mavs will regret winning game 1 as the Lakers will bounce back and win the next two to regain a series lead. We’ve seen this script before, just last series. Mavs win 1, Lakers win 2, Mavs win 1 and then the Lakers win 2 to close out the series. I just laugh at the dimwitted pundits who make more of this game 1 loss than they should.

    The Lakers lost this game losing focus when they had a big lead and they stopped playing team offense and defense. We saw just how outmatched the Mavs are against the Lakers when the Lakers ran up their lead and expect more of that as the series wears on and the Mavs wear out. Phil Jackson will make the necessary adjustments to ensure the Lakers roll over the Mavs and into the Western Conference Finals!

    • passerby23 - May 3, 2011 at 11:25 AM

      omniusprime:
      Give it up dude! You say the same thing every time the Lakers lose. It’s getting old. Yes, the Lakers are good enough to win the series and probably will, but the “they have them right where they want them” stuff is just stupid. Right where they want them is a sweep so they can end the series. The Lakers are among the oldest teams in the league. If anyone should be worried about wearing out, it’s them.

    • realisticfan - May 3, 2011 at 11:40 AM

      Yeah. The Lakers sure know how to punish a team… lose to them. I’m lovin’ that strategy. If they keep it up, they can force the Mavs into the Western Conference Finals. I’m glad to know that this was what the Lakers had planned all along.

    • delius1967 - May 3, 2011 at 12:59 PM

      Congratulations, omniusprime, for vindicating Poe’s Law. I honestly can’t tell if you are just being a typically idiotic Lakers fan, or if you are just parodying one.

      I want to say that no one could possibly believe that the Lakers intentionally lost the first game in order to lull the Mavericks to sleep. I want to say that, but I have seen too many posts from known Lakers fans saying things that are just as inexplicable.

    • stash14me - May 3, 2011 at 7:51 PM

      I think you need to see some facts. Dallas finished the season 57-25, The Lakers finished 57-25. These teams had the exact same record after playing the exact same teams. It took the Lakers a last second overtime basket in order to claim home court rights.

      The last time these two teams played in ’87 it went to game 7, and the Lakers won the series because they had home court. Their home court advantage has been erased by the Mavs win last night. In that series both teams won the games on their home court.

      If the Lakers can not win one in Dallas, and Dallas won all their home games against Portland in round 1, than Dallas and their deeper bench will take this series.

  5. davidly - May 3, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Of course LA gave it away.
    It’s like in their DNA, to play… and then look like a wack 80s video game, standin’ around of offense, boinkin’ an outsider, and getting beat back the other way.

    Just like that last series against… who was that again? Right, Nawlins. Dallas looks more over-matched than they did. Lakers in five. Unless not. Then in six.

  6. dunkmaster912 - May 3, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    The lakers need to start lamar odom over bynum for a couple games this series just to see how much better the team would be at contesting Nowitski

  7. fouldwimmerlaik - May 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    This is absolutely part of Phil and Kobe’s plan. Did you see the way they OWNED the Mavs and then allowed them to get back in the game. First, they just wanted to make sure they could dominate the Mavs, then they let the Mavs win so it would create a false sense of ability.

    Kobe and Phil have already planned this out. I said it before the series started, don’t be surprised if the Lakers let the Mavs win 2 or even three games. This is all part of a grand ruse to sucker the Mavs and any future opponent into believing they can beat the Lakers.

    I have my Kobe Bryant Action Figure – Playoff Edition flying around my parent’s basement in the little cape I made for him. Kobe is, as always, in control. Make me proud, my little Kobe!!!!

  8. Darius - May 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    I thought a key part of that Kobe drive where Chandler stepped up and Kobe committed the turnover was the fact that Odom was a bit too high/shallow in the corner and it brought Dirk into the defensive play. Re-watching it, Dirk was able to reach in and instead of Kobe being able to elevate for a short baseline jumper, he took an extra dribble which brought him right into Chandler (who made a great play to challenge without fouling). This isn’t to blame Odom at all. The spacing was just poor (a theme of the Lakers 2nd half offense) and, to these eyes, it limited Kobe’s options on that play.

    • davidly - May 4, 2011 at 4:26 AM

      Good observation; Tex couldn’t’ve said it better. There’s more than one reason for that fifteen to twenty feet, but a big one is dependent upon the length of the players involved.

      And at the risk of beating a dead horse: when you look at the first half offense with the players active and making constant cuts, and compare that to the second half of the third quarter when they quite literally began to stand around, it is astonishing.

  9. truprof - May 3, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    There are some seriously deluded people here. The Lakers WANTED the Mavs to win game one? SERIOUSLY? All part of some grand scheme to sucker the Mavs? Lay off the Kool-Aid, boys and girls. The Mavs won because the Lakers didn’t keep their heads or their hearts in the game. Plenty of blame to go around, starting with Phil, then on to Artest, Bynum and the Lakers bench.
    The Lakers have a better team, and if they keep their focus they’ll likely win this series. But they cannot afford to coast or play with limited interest. BUT, the loss isn’t part of some scheme. Just ask the Lakers themselves if they’d have rather won than lost. Sheeeeeesh! Get a clue!

    • davidly - May 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      One person does not a “people” make. I’m sure one of those two comments was in jest. Perhaps both; one was more subtly done.

  10. thekingdave - May 3, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    @fouldwimmerlaik

    Talk about beating a dead horse. It wasn’t funny the first time, nor was it the 70th.

    • fouldwimmerlaik - May 4, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      It was never intended to be funny…it is true!

  11. delius1967 - May 3, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    As a long time Mavericks fan, I enjoyed this win tremendously, particularly seeing Bryant clang off YET ANOTHER last second shot (he’s now at 25% for game-winning shots in the playoffs over his career… not that statistics mean anything to his backers).

    However, I also think this game showed why the Lakers, despite this setback, will probably win the series: their defense is more consistent and fundamental. We saw this in the Portland series, too, with Dallas giving up God only knows how many alley-oop baskets. In this game, there were way too many easy cuts to the hoop for the Lakers. Dallas got almost none of those.

    So, likely, the Lakers will win this series despite this setback. Yech, if we get a LA/Miami final, that would be sickening. I wouldn’t be able to decide who I wanted to lose more.

  12. loungefly74 - May 3, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    what? me worried?

    no…as a Laker fan, I am frustrated after that game but have confidence they will win the series.

    come on, we all know there are some funny guys like fouldwimmerliak that are gonna say that stuff like that. very tongue in cheek but a Laker fan true n’ true! Love it Foul! Go Lakers!

  13. fouldwimmerlaik - May 4, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Not worried too. Funny how people say that the Lakers are in trouble every time they lose a Game 1 only for LA to eventually clinch the series. Doesn’t matter if it’s homecourt or not. Had LA won, I wouldn’t be that ecstatic though as I would just say that the Lakers took care of business as they should.

    I’m still optimistic that LA will still reach the Finals. And no, saying that LA purposely lost just to give the Mavs a false sense of security is nothing but bovine fecal matter. It’s disrespectful for both teams. The Mavs played the better game. Hopefully those conspiracy theorists saying that LA has got the refs’ numbers would shut up now.

    Oh, by the way, I’m NOT that funny fouldwimmerlaik. Check the color of our name-handles. It’s just a pathetic attempt of that poser to make me look bad. ;)

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