May 8, 2011, 9:42 PM EDT
Somehow, it only took the Dallas Mavericks four games to prove wrong just about every prediction and every presupposition that existed going into their series against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers appeared bound for the Finals to pen a fitting final chapter of Phil Jackson’s coaching career. The Mavericks were supposedly the lesser team, haunted by ghosts of playoff runs past. Andrew Bynum was supposed to rule the paint, and Kobe Bryant the perimeter. There was talk of legacies and pedigrees, and the reigning champs were working toward a seemingly inevitable sprint into June.
The Lakers were the best team in this series on paper, but the Mavs created a disconnect between preconception and reality. There were close games and blowouts, but virtually nothing went according to plan. Bynum was largely contained, despite his precedent of excellence against Tyson Chandler in the post. Bryant had some big scoring nights, but occasionally hindered the flow of the Laker offense and barely attempted anything other than jump shots. The Mavericks were anything but the lesser team, and despite what any player or team’s reputation in this series would have suggested, the Lakers’ run ends here.
The defending champs were swept out of the playoffs in the second round in thoroughly embarrassing fashion, capped by a 122-86 demolition job by the Mavs. It was painful and embarrassing for the Lakers, but grant credit to the aggressors; while the Lakers disgraced themselves with their abysmal effort and lack of composure in Game 4, it was the Mavs’ execution that exposed the Lakers in every game of this series. L.A. was forced to respond repeatedly to Dallas’ ball movement and timely defensive rotations, and clearly wasn’t up to the challenge — a point made clear with each ridiculously open three that the Mavs took in Game 4, and the offensive possessions that grinded to a halt against Dallas’ defensive pressure.
The Dallas bench was incredible, as Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic, and J.J. Barea powered the reserves to 86 combined points — the same as L.A.’s overall total. That’s an absurd boost from a group of non-starters, but not exactly inconceivable given the context of this game. The Lakers simply had no interest in chasing either Terry and Stojakovic around staggered screens — nor in stopping Barea on his drives to the rim, with the sole exception being Andrew Bynum’s cheap shot/flagrant 2 foul in the fourth quarter — and the Mavs offense swelled as a result. Terry tied an NBA playoff record with nine made three pointers (in just 10 attempts!) and Stojakovic made all six of his three-point attempts, most of which came without a defender in an eight-foot radius.
L.A. may have a fantastically talented core and the greatest coach in NBA history, but for 48 minutes — or four games, really — none if mattered a bit. The Mavs played as close to a perfect game as one could imagine, and scored 132.6 points per 100 possessions to the Lakers’ 93.5. That 39.1 efficiency margin isn’t a gulf or an ocean, but some expanse that doesn’t exist in our universe in physical terms. There are barely even words to describe how demonstrably better the Mavs were than the Lakers in Game 4, despite the fact that L.A.’s playoff lives were on the line, as was the last hurrah of a living legend.
No Laker is shielded from blame, and no Maverick should be without praise; this was a comprehensive team-wide dominance of the highest order, and the embarrassment in L.A.’s locker room should only be matched by the incredible pride of the home team.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
Noel isn’t ready to stop that much power going to the rim yet.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
Spurs big man just won’t stop producing great seasons
Oct 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
That’s real artistry by the Heat star
Oct 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Why is Houston’s general manager downplaying his own team’s success?
Oct 23, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT
Sterling had previously dropped a fraud charge against the NBA.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
The two-time MVP continues to battle nerve damage in his back.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
A rare look at Popovich’s lighter side.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Bad news for #JugLife devotees.
Oct 23, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
Smart wins the “job” over one-time frontrunner Evan Turner
Oct 23, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT
He’s already one of the best players in Philadelphia.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
When you lose the best player walking the face of the earth, your team gets worse.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
Love reflects on his summer and the blockbuster trade in a new “Players Tribune” essay.
Oct 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT
It looks like a NASA launch center… but it’s a good thing for the league.
Oct 23, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT
Cavalier star forward still adjusting to playing with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving
Oct 23, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
Retired jersey went to New Orleans when team moved
Oct 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
76ers point guard originally given 5-to-50-game timeline
Oct 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT
Suns guard sends Clippers reserve flying
Oct 23, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT
Lakers president has strong words for Kobe detractors after ESPN report
Oct 23, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT
Kobe previously planned to play all eight preseason games
Oct 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
He could miss the start of the season.
- Steve Nash to miss entire 2014-15 season with ongoing back injuries 40
- Jeanie Buss: ‘Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser’ 59
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Memphis Grizzlies 7
- Five top candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year 30
- NBA GMs surveyed predict LeBron will win MVP, Spurs will repeat as champions 31
- Owners vote down NBA Draft lottery reform, system to stay same for this season 47
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Houston Rockets 26
- Kobe Bryant responds to ESPN article with basically a shrug (VIDEO) 23