Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dallas Mavericks 96, Los Angeles 94: Our Power Forward is Better Than Yours

Last night, I failed myself and didn't even take my own advice. I scummed to history. Throughout the entire fourth quarter, I assumed Kobe would make the last shot of the game and the Mavericks would leave the court, shell-shocked from another Kobe dagger.

When Kobe rose up to take the game-winning three, I knew it was going down. As it bounced of the back iron I was stunned. The Dallas Mavericks went into Los Angeles, fell behind by 16 in the third quarter and won.

I've read a lot of rumblings from national outlets and sites stating how horrible the Lakers played and the Mavs winning by only two is a testament to the Lakers ability and talent. Now, there's no doubt the Lakers slept-walked from the opening tip until a couple of minutes remaining in the second quarter. But from there on? They were into it. Kobe had that look, Gasol and Bynum were sharing the ball and Odom was making plays.

I believe it's more fair to say that both teams didn't play their "A" games, except the final three minutes of the game, Dallas flat out executed. There were no Jason Terry hero shots. No Jason Kidd pull up threes. No wild Shawn Marion shot clock expiring attempts. Just pure executed offense, not reliant on Dirk, but running through him. There are plenty of things to improve on, but it's so much easier to swallow up 1-0 over the two time champs with three games to play in Dallas.

  • I have literally run out of ways to describe Dirk Nowitziki and his continued brilliance as a basketball player. 28 points on 22 shots, 50 percent from the field, from three and perfect from the free throw line. If Dirk would have received a couple of friendly AAC-type calls on a couple of bumps he received on some of his jumpers, he would have been well over 30 points. Throw in 14 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and only one turnover. Add in a couple of crunch time buckets and scores and you have another typical great Dirk night. Keep it up, big German.
  • A note on the 14 rebounds: there was some concern over Dirk's rebounding ability. It was a worthy concern, with his age climbing and his athletic ability in a downward trend. And of course, he turns it on another level in the playoffs. That's now three double doubles in seven playoff games with three other games of 7, 8 and 9 boards. 
  • I mentioned in my playoff preview that the only way for the Lakers to stumble is if they beat themselves. It happened to a degree with Kobe shot hunting from the perimeter (no shot attempts at the rim) and Ron Artest going bonkers with a 1-for-8 shooting night. Kobe might have been incredible, but the more 29-jump-shots-no-assists-nights he puts up, the more I like the Mavericks chances.
  • Since we're focusing on what I said right, let's go next to where I'll be wrong. Andrew Bynum was completely shut down by the duo of Tyson Chandler and Brandon Haywood. I'm not as surprised with Haywood's performance, since Haywood has always had this in him, with his great length and strength to match Bynum. Chandler is a different story. He worked, pushed, shoved and battled Bynum about as well I've ever seen. Granted, the refs allowed a lot of physical play and I caught at least three instances of Chandler having both hands on Bynum's back (a usual no-no). Also, with Bynum ineffective that put Odom and Gasol on the floor which heavily favors Dallas by allowing Chandler to work on Gasol. Gasol shot 5-for-10 but Chandler forced a few misses and made him pass out of the post a couple of times in the fourth. One more quick note: I noticed by my unofficial count that Bynum caught the ball in the post with both his feet out of the paint at least four to five times. As a post player myself (and a rather bad one at that) I can't tell you how much difference it makes to force a big man to put the ball on the floor a couple of more times then he wants to.
  •  Bench points -- Dallas, 40. LA, 25. 'Nuff said.
  • Actually, more said: Jason Terry saved Dallas in the first half (before he destroyed it in the last two seconds.) Dirk started hot, making his first three shots but had a real rough stretch during the second quarter. In that time, Terry carried the offense on his back, going perfect from the field in the first half, all on great shots. Terry popped off picks, shot off swing passes and had some beautiful pump-fake, escape dribble baskets. Terry cooled off in the second half a bit, but his offense was monumental when Dirk was momentarily human.
  • For Corey Brewer to do what he did, without having played meaningful basketball in months, to step up in the biggest game of his NBA career...wow. The Mavs went on a 22-11 run when Brewer checked in after the Lakers built a 60-44 lead in the third, and his three pointer brought the game to 64-61. He played valiant defense (even though Kobe still drained a few jumpers in his face) and was more impressively offensively. He finished on the break, made a three (!) and had two, real nifty passes after driving baseline. Both resulted in Tyson Chandler points and really showcased that he has the room to grow into an all-around player, whenever that jumper becomes less wonky. Who thought we'd be seeing Brewer play, let alone taking a heat check three? (Even though it rimmed out.)
I'll stop here for now, but there are plenty of other things in this game to nitpick. Jason Kidd played a truly two-faced game (third = poop, fourth = better), J.J. Barea shows what he can contribute when he isn't being posted up on every play and Kobe was completely wide open on that last three. Game 2 is Wednesday and it might be the hardest game the Mavericks will ever play.

Be our friend! Join The Rice of Passage Facebook page! 

Want to tell me how dumb I am? Follow my dumb thoughts? Then check me out on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment