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NBA Playoffs: Dallas stands up to Lakers front line, lead 2-0

May 5, 2011, 2:45 AM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two Getty Images

The Lakers are back-to-back champions for two key reasons. One is Kobe Bryant.

The other is that nobody has been able to stand up to their front line. There are 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, plus 6’10” Lamar Odom — all very long and very skilled. All very hard to stop.

Dallas has.

That is why Dallas won Game 2 93-81, and is up 2-0 series. The Mavericks have won both games on the Lakers home court. They have stood toe-to-toe to the Lakers strength and not given up an inch. These are not the soft-as-tissue-paper Mavericks, and they are in total control of this series now.

For two games now Dallas has shut Gasol down, been more physical inside than Los Angeles, blocked shots and done what no team has consistently done for two seasons now. In Game 2 the Lakers were 13-of-23 at the rim (shots basically inside the restricted area) and 5-of-13 from there out to 9 feet.

Every team talks about standing up to the Lakers inside, but Dallas is doing it.

“For us, we have a lot of size,” Mavs center Brendan Haywood said. “Most teams come in don’t have the size that we have — Tyson (Chandler) is 7-feet, Dirk (Nowitzki) is 7-feet, I’m 7-feet. We have a lot of size we can throw at them and we can challenge shots at the rim.”

Pau Gasol was only 3-of-6 at the rim, Lamar Odom 1-of-6. Dallas challenged everything. Even DeShawn Stevenson was getting blocks on Gasol.

Dallas was able to pack the paint and challenge those shots because the Lakers outside shooting. Or more accurately, the lack of it. Particularly from three. The jump shots were worse than what was going on in the paint.

Los Angeles started 0-for-15 from three. They didn’t hit one — the first was a Kobe pull up — until there was just more than two minutes left and the game was all but decided.

The Lakers offense is all about spacing — if you pack the paint you have to leave someone open. Dallas did. The Lakers missed and did not make them pay.

Dallas held the Lakers to 32 second half points.

The Mavericks sealed the win with a brilliant second half from J.J. Barea, who had 12 points and four assits. The diminutive Puerto Rican guard — to look at him, he would be the last guy picked in your pickup-game at the YMCA — carved up the Lakers defense off the pick-and-roll and the Lakers defended it terribly. Odom and Gasol did not show out well, basically creating a second screen for Steve Blake or Shannon Brown to fight through. Then Barea used that to charge right at Bynum or whatever big had to protect the paint, then he’d hit the open man.

That followed the theme of the first two games.

These Lakers leave the door open. They make mistakes. From poor pick-and-roll coverage to missing threes to going away from Andrew Bynum when he was the best Laker big on the night (6-of-6 a the rim and with 18 points on 11 shots overall).

Dallas has capitalized. The Lakers have made mistakes in the past but been able to overcome — Dallas is showing mental and physical toughness, a veteran poise, and they are making the Lakers pay for their lapses.

Dallas has been the better team. Nowitzki has been nothing short of brilliant, drilling his unstoppable rainbow fadeaway on his way to 24 points in Game 2.

Now the Lakers will need to win in Dallas to keep this series going. They are going to have to do it in Game 3 Friday without Ron Artest, who will get suspended for a late cheap shot on Barea.

Dallas to a man said they were wary of the Lakers championship pedigree. They said this series is not over.

It doesn’t feel like that. It feels like Dallas is going to keep on standing toe-to-toe with the Lakers, punching them in the mouth and soon will be looking to throw the knockout punch.

  1. purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    There’s widespead panic tonight out here in LA (oh, and yes, all of the Laker homers who brag about living within ten minutes of the Anaheim Honda Center, which somehow makes them an “expert”, for what that’s worth). The “loyal Laker fans” were very loud boo-birds by the end of the game tonight; so much for “loyalty”, eh?

    CELEBRATE TONIGHT! COME’ON!!! IT’S A CELEBRATION!!!

    No, it’s not over yet, but Charles Barlkey tonight after the game said that there’s “no way that the NBA doesn’t suspend Ron Artest for one playoff game for his “cheap-shot with less than 30 seconds to go in the game”, and pompous ass Coach Phil in his post game press conference seemed resigned to that as well. What a dumbbell (applies to both Artest and Phil as my post continues below)!

    I’m just suffering from a bad case of “Laker Fatigue”, where Laker homers live in an Alice In Wonderland world and have taken a second repeat (not only that but an on going “dynasty”), for granted as well. For all you’ve done Mavs, this Bud’s for you!!! Keep up the good work… you’ve got the Lakers scared and on the run!

    The Lakers all year have acted like it’s their God given right to take whatever they want, just as Kobe thought he could too that one fateful night in Colorado. I’m still seething over Coach Phil’s ridiculing of Derrick Rose a few days ago by butchering his name intentionally. What exactly was the point of that, Phil? To prove that you’re the NBA’s biggest pompous ass since Red Auerbach?

    Why would Jackson even care about Rose at this point in the playoffs? It’s called taking your eye off the ball, folks! Stupid is as stupid does and tonight Artest has company in Coach Phil. More Mavs! Make it happen!!! Bury the godamn Lakers… and deep too!

  2. delius1967 - May 5, 2011 at 3:15 AM

    Spanish? Barea is Puerto Rican. If he’s Spanish, then you’re English.

    As someone who grew up in Dallas, and was a Mavs fan from Day 1, I refuse to allow these victories to get my hopes up. I still believe they will find a way to lose the series. I’ve seen way too many Mav teams that were as deep and talented as anyone in the league, yet unable to produce in the playoffs.

    I hope I’m wrong but I fear I’m not.

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

    Calling fouldswimmertalk (or whatever your name is):
    I’m beginning to think that this strategy is going to backfire. You know, like in Detroit when they carried it out until the bitter end.

    • fouldwimmerlaik - May 5, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      Be strong, davidly, it is playing out exactly as it is supposed to. Did you see that picture of Mark Cuban with the article. He is so over-confident right now that I think he is looking plumper than before. The Mavs are ripe! Ripe, I tell you, ripe!

      In the lairs of my p[parents’ basement, I fly my Kobe Action Figure – Playoff Edition to new heights in anticipation of the joy that will be sucked out of Mark Cuban’s dark heart. When Kobe and Phil are in charge, they know what they are doing.

      • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 1:07 PM

        fouldwi… Enjoy your Kobe action figure while you can, because you’re going to have to tuck him away back into the toy box before this series with the Mavs is over.

        I have no problem with Cuban; professional sports could use more owners like him who are truly committed to winning and “into” their teams. All I can say is, thank God that Cuban didn’t get to become owner of the Chicago Flubs!

        I’d love to see Cuban though finally get invited into baseball’s little owner fraternity as owner of his hometown Pirates eventually though!

      • fouldwimmerlaik - May 5, 2011 at 1:15 PM

        Purdueman – Cuban is definitely one of those people who you love if he is your guy and hate if he is the other teams guy. I understand why you like him. He would be a perfect owner for the Pirates and he could possibly make that franchise into something. It would at least be fun to watch.

        And my Kobe Action Figure – Playoff Edition will fly forever!!!!!!! (I made a cape for him.)

  4. budrow - May 5, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    Delius1967

    I hope you’re wrong too! I want to see a rematch of 2006 Mavs and Heat.

  5. blahblahblah62 - May 5, 2011 at 5:55 AM

    Yup, Barea is not Spanish and not a forward. Are you sure you know who he is? The little guy, about 5′ 10″? The Gasol brothers are Spanish, and I guess Pau is kind of a forward with center tendencies.

    • Kurt Helin - May 5, 2011 at 10:50 AM

      My bad on Barea, just silly mistakes rushing to make deadline that were corrected when I edited the story after I woke up. I realize he’s a guard, I talked to him after the game and he is one of about 4 NBA players I may be taller than.

  6. helinhater - May 5, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Seriously Kurt?

    This is why my handle is HelinHater…

    Barea is Puerto Rican as someone previously pointed out. And why is his nationality of any importance? How often do you refer to Dirk as the Mavericks “German Forward”? How about Ginobli? Or Nicolas Batum? Do you always refer to Serge Ibaka as OKC’s “Congolese Big Man”?

    He’s also a guard, not a forward.

    Keep stepping your game up, Kurt. This site has definitely improved since other writers have started to contribute.

    • kast2l - May 5, 2011 at 9:27 AM

      In Kurts defense, he wrote these articles at like 2 something in the morning, cut him some slack lol.

    • davidly - May 5, 2011 at 9:37 AM

      Dude, relax. He’s just using journalist lingo; adding adjectives as an alternative to repeating the same name and personal pronoun again and again.

      I’ll admit that I snark out occasionally, but don’t you think carrying that moniker kind of exposes an unreasonable predilection?

      Just be glad he didn’t use the sports-urinalist version of the third conditional. Now that would have been annoying.

    • hnirobert3 - May 5, 2011 at 9:39 AM

      I’m Cuban-American and have no problem being referred to as Spanish. Spain is the MOTHERLAND.

  7. bobthis - May 5, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    There is plenty of blame to go around. Gasol has completely disappeared, Fish can’t play defense anymore and the rest of the team needs to buy a ticket if they’re going to stand around and watch Kobe all night. The number one negative is that the league has figured out the “triangle” a long time ago but Phil’s ego won’t give it up. I know Jackson has two fists full of rings but everything comes to an end. The Laker’s were never meant to be a half court team. As for defense, they haven’t played four quarters since the Magic Johnson era. I’m still not counting them out but it looks pretty grim.

    • davidly - May 5, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      “Figured out the triangle”? The whole league has figured out the pick-n-roll, too, but that doesn’t mean it can be easily defended; it depends on the execution and defense.

      Jackson didn’t invent the triangle, so I’m not sure what his ego has to do with his running it. Don’t you think that it just might be possible that he believes in it?

      The negative about the triangle has to do with the fact that it is as complicated for the offensive player to learn as it is to defend. It’s just about multiple options, and if you have the right personnel and run it well, it is just as indefensible as any other offense run well.

    • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      One of the funniest things to happen in recent memory was when then Miami Heat Coach, fed up as most of us are with the hype, referred to Phil Jackson as “Big Chief Triangle”! LOLALALOL!!!!

      I can’t believe that in 2011 there are still naive fans who fall for that garbage that you have to be some sort of a coaching genius to be able to implement that offense.

      What you need is an outstanding wing shooter who can manufacture his own shot (which the Bulls had in Jordan and the Lakers have in Bryant), a high post center who can really distribute (which the Bulls had in their Longley/Wittington combination and the Lakers have with Gasol who provides that function even though he’s not technically a center), and another legitimate scoring option (which the Lakers have in Bynum and the Bulls had in “No Tippin” Pippin).

      The reason that Kurt Rambutt has failed trying to implement the triangle is Minneapolis is because the dummy doesn’t realize that he simply doesn’t have the personnel yet to run it. The same thing happened to an even bigger idiot in Tim Floyd after he took over in Chicago. Floyd didn’t realize that the triangle offense doesn’t replace Pippin and Jordan…. duh-uh.

      What’s also changed is the NBA; with the elimination of hand checking, clearly it has become a guard dominated league, making the triangle offense irrelevant except for one bunch of basketball aging dinosaurs that play in LA.

      • davidly - May 5, 2011 at 11:14 AM

        On the contrary. The reason why the triangle breaks down is because the great wing players (Jordan and Bryant) isolate and take too many shots during stretches when they shouldn’t. Sure, those victories in Chicago came because of great players like Pippen and Jordan, but they also won in spite of not running the offense. Look at the second three-peat with Rodman, however, and you see just how effective it can be. They were simply dominant, in part because of the players, but also because they ran that offense so well.

        Any team with the personnel and players unselfish enough to stick to it could run it to perfection. So far these Lakers have not stuck to it for more than a couple of quarters a game – which is probably why they aren’t so great at running it consistently.

        By the way, that was the Knicks’ Van Gundy who made the Big Chief Triangle comment. Perhaps in response to being called Jeff Van Gumby, so it’s understandable. Just too bad for him that he went on to get bounced by Chicago from the playoffs again.

      • LPad - May 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        don’t forget Jim Cleamons in Dallas

      • LPad - May 5, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        I don’t agree with the dinosaur comment though, because just about every coach in the league except for maybe D’Antoni runs elements of the triangle. Even the Wilt and West Lakers ran it. I think people read too much into the wing players like Jordan, Kobe, Pippen, etc. breaking away from the triangle. There are ways for defenses to approach the triangle like every offense set in basketball to force players like Artest to take shots late in the clock or force Pau further out, which leads to triangle breaking down and the wing players creating their own shots.

        Also the Lakers don’t run the triangle every time down because they have other sets they run about 10 percent of the time.

      • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 11:27 AM

        davidly… thanks for the correction as to who made the “Big Chief Triangle” quote… it’s been a lot of years and a lot of water over the dam for me since in my life.

        You made a solid post. The one thing that you didn’t mention though is that it takes a mostly veteran team that knows how to play basketball in order to successfully run the triangle. The “one and done-r’s” coming out of college today have had what? Maybe 30 games of real coaching in their lives after mostly having grown up honing mainly their dunk and trick shot sklls on inner city playgrounds?

        That’s why Rambutt has failed with the offense in Minnesota thus far. His team is simply too green and lacks the horses to run it. You confirmed my main point though, and that’s that you don’t have to be a genius as a head coach to implement the offense; you just have to have the right mix of players to make it work.

      • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        LPad… unfortunately Jim Cleamons is most forgetable! So was Bill Cartright’s failed attempt in implementing the triangle in Chicago too. Once again though, it’s not about the coaching; it’s about having the right mix of VETERAN players to effectively implement it.

      • davidly - May 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

        Yeah, PJ’s genius may be over-topic’d, but I don’t think overrated. It’s easy to get disgusted, especially if you are not a fan.

        But his genius is the mellow nature in which he coaches from the bench. At least since the eighties, nobody else was allowing their team to get trounced without calling a timeout. And as far as I’m able to observe, he’s still the only one who does that. I think it makes his teams better. He also seems to make halftime and series adjustments at least above average.

        As far as what it takes for a coach to implement the triangle: Patience.

      • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        LPad… my dinosaur comment wasn’t so much directed at Phil Jackson (although I can see how it could easily read that way), or the triangle, but towards the so called “Laker dynasty” about to become a distant memory (and thereby a dinosaur).

        I loved the after game comments by Sir Charles and crew about the NBA clearly now going through a “changing of the guard”, and it being “a breathe of fresh air” for the league.

        Perennial powerhouse teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics are now all rapidly on the decline, whereas teams like the Heat, Bulls, Thunder, Grizzlies and I think the Knicks soon too, being on the rise.

        As a fan, I just find it boring in any sport when one team consistently dominates. It’s just a lot more interesting when the pot finally gets stirred.

      • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 1:01 PM

        davidly… my comments weren’t intended to in any way knock Phil Jackson’s impact as a head coach, but were intended to be directed towards there being way too much credit being given to him for being a highly successful coach simply because he always implements the triangle offense.

        The biggest challenge, bar none, of any NBA head coach is to manage the huge egos and big guaranteed contract players to get them to park their egos at the door and play a team game. Nobody has ever done a better job of that than Phil.

        Phil’s oftentimes misplaced sarcasm knocking other players (by intentionally butchering their names in an attempt to degrade them), I find though to be unwarranted and frankly irritating. What’s the point? To give other teams locker bulletin board material?

        Good luck to whomever replaces Phil at the end of this season though, because Kobe is once again likely to go into “pout mode” once the reality of this being a Lakers team now stuck with a lot of big contracts and being mostly made up of guys on the wrong side of 30 years old.

        Everyone assumes that Brian Shaw will be named the next Laker head coach, but if I were Mitch Kupchak I’d be going after veteran head coach and ex-Laker Byron Scott. I have to believe that Scott has to have an out clause in his contract in the event that the Lakers head coaching position becomes open.

        There’s little help in the upcoming free agent class too in order for the Lakers to “retool”; the Lakers will have to depend again on some team that’s struggling financially to simply hand them a good player as the Grizzlies did with Gasol a few years ago.

      • LPad - May 5, 2011 at 4:01 PM

        purdueman – didn’t know that’s what you were referring to when you said dinosaur. In that case, I agree. One way to tell that a changing of guard is taking place is when you look at what these teams would have to do to stay on top. For example, the Lakers would have to win four straight West Finals in order to threepeat this year. There’s about three teams that have won their conference four straight years and I think most of them are pre 80s (just going off the top of my head, so I could be wrong). In a way, you could say the Lakers missed their chance to threepeat when they lost to Boston.

      • davidly - May 6, 2011 at 1:25 AM

        Na, don’t worry, I didn’t take it that way. And I agree wholeheartedly that the league would be more interesting with several legit contenders swapping victories, as opposed to swapping dynasties. But it seems the league has been doing that for quite a while – without wiki-ing it, I’d say since at least the 50s.

        And Jackson. What can one say? Sure, he is capable of using psychology and short-term focus for the longer term gain. But you’re absolutely right about some of the unnecessary negative comments. An interesting thing that I have never seen anyone mention, though I know folks must have noticed: While PJ is smart and can have a way with words, he is not the most articulate fellow for someone so well-read. I’m not judging, it’s just an observation.

        So the question for the NBA is: Will there be six different champions over the next decade, or only two?

        And regarding who the next LA coach should be: You might be right about Scott being a better choice. I can’t say. But I get the feeling (maybe because the media told me so) that Shaw stuck around because he was told it was his. It would be a shame if they sent him packing under those circumstances. Makes me think of what’s his name who got traded with Melo, though he wanted to stay in Denver with his family. I know they make loads of dough, but that stuff can be disruptive and cause problems for folks that we don’t see.

        Oh well. Game three tonight, and tomorrow’s story will be…

  8. ocgunslinger - May 5, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    The Mavs are the better team by far from what we have seen so far in the two Lakers home games. It may only get worse from this point on and a short series…..this from a strong Lakers fan. It is not one problem but many for the Lakers. Chandler is the key addition to the Mavs team that has changed their play. Don’t see the Lakers winning 4 straight or 4 out of 5 with three on the road. It was a great run though.

    • chargerdillon - May 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM

      Im totally with you on this. At this point being down 2-0 its not like they played poorly against the Mavs in those two games as was the case with the Hornets.

      We played pretty decent and got outplayed at home, and now to even it up we’re going to go to Dallas and win 2? I dont see that happening. It absolutely could, but this team doesn’t look nearly as cohesive has they have in the past.

      Back to back Champs, if it ends here GREAT RUN, and good luck to Dallas. Much respect to Dirk

      • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        charger… Thusfar, although admittedly I haven’t watched every playoff series, I have yet to see any team play true championship basketball consistently. The Mavs were sloppy as hell last night between there being about 10 minutes left in the game down to there being about 2 1/2 minutes left in the game.

        The Bulls last night couldn’t buy a bucket in the second and third quarters and a lot of sloppy passes were thrown by both teams. I agree again with Sir Charles though in that the best teams just find a way to win and don’t go back and forth from being blown out one game to dominating the next. In a seven game series, consistency is what counts.

        As for the Mavs? Although it’s largely been dismissed, their key acquisition last offseason was Tyson Chandler, who of course is in a contract year (and playing like such). The real question is though, after Chandler gets his next big contract (which I’m sure will be with the Mavs), will he go back to being the “old Tyson” or not?

  9. omniusprime - May 5, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Dallas fans don’t count your chickens before your eggs hatch, lest you be really disappointed. Looks like the Repeat World Champion Lakers have run a new script, make it look like they’re done for losing the first two home games and then come roaring back to stun the Mavs late in the series. The Lakers couldn’t play any worse and they certainly won’t miss so many 3′s and free throws as they did last night. I’m sure Kobe will figure out how to get the whole team more involved in offense and defense. Game 3 is a must win game and they’ll come through. Remember how the Lakers disappointed Celtic fans last year in the Finals when every pundit declared them DOA when down 2 games to 3 and then came roaring back to win the final two and the championship? Yeah Lakers – Been There, Done That and they have the world champion t-shirts to prove it!

    • davidly - May 5, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      I dunno. That seemed to be the case in ’04 when, after having brilliantly thrown three games and fooling everybody, they toyed with the Pistons for three more quarters in their first elimination game. Don’t get me wrong, it was sheer genius of a strategy, but it seems that it was working so well that they forgot to outscore Detroit by the 24 points they needed… oh! I get it! That was so that everybody would think they couldn’t come back and win it this year! Whoooo. That’s a relief.

  10. purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    One comment about the great exchange of thoughts today on this particular thread… isn’t it nice for a change to see everyone playing nice in the sandbox?

    • davidly - May 5, 2011 at 1:23 PM

      Go to hell.

    • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      Tsk, tsk… davidly, did you wake up on the wrong side of bed today? Or did perhaps somebody kick your dog?

      Up until now, your posts have been very solid today, but if you want to drag everyone down into the gutter of stupid and pointless personal slams directed towards people that you don’t know, it’s a free forum. (Ugh!).

      • davidly - May 5, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        boilerdude, I’m not gonna resort to the use of a smiley and a winky. You need to expand your reading voice. It’s all about timing. I mean, seriously…

      • davidly - May 6, 2011 at 1:27 AM

        Okay, I surrender. Since you didn’t respond, I’ll reiterate: Bad joke or not, I hate using ;-D etc. Still, I am sorry, to have offended you.

  11. mook1987 - May 5, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    lets actually watch and see what happens and then say “well done” or “you suck”

    • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 6:42 PM

      Now that King George (Steinbrenner), has passed on, the two most entertaining off the field/off the court things in all of sports are: 1) Eldrick throwing a temper tantrum, spitting and f-bombing the galley; and 2) Kobe whining about what the Lakers need to do in the offseason or he’ll take his ball and go home! LOL!

  12. rapmusicmademedoit - May 5, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Kobe will have a good talking to his team about the no lay up rule they have seem to forgotten and then have a very physical practice, he will challenge them to step up as a champion should do and remind them to defend what they have. Kobe will show up, this guy has never backed down, injuries have never worried him, he is a tough guy who does not quit.

    everyone get drunk it’s cinco de mayo!!

    • purdueman - May 5, 2011 at 6:43 PM

      rapmusic… Who knew you’re of Mexican decent?!!!

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