Back in October for SLAMonline’s annual Top 50 Players list, Jason Rowley reminded us that Kobe Bryant gave the Mavs 62 — in three quarters. Well, here we are, one full season and a round of Playoffs out the way and Jason’s back, reminding us exactly who the Mavericks are dealing with. We hope you didn’t forget. –Ed.
by Jason Rowley / @MixedProjects
The Lakers still have a good chance of winning this series. They controlled most of Game 1 and — even after a terrible fourth quarter – Kobe had a shot to win the game. In Game 2, they opened up 0-15 from the three-point line, Lamar Odom shot 3-12, and Derek Fisher (4 points) and Steve Blake (worst game of the season) contributed nothing. And do you realize Kobe hasn’t made one layup or dunk in this series yet? Only jumpers! All of that is likely to change.
What I’d like to see happen is:
1. Swinging the ball. Way too often the ball stays in the Triangle on one side of the court. Dallas is killing them by spacing and spreading the floor — and passing the ball. The weak side duck-in on the ball reversal is when the Lakers get the best inside position (in the paint, rather than pushed several feet off the block).
3. Switch Kobe off Kidd and let Fish (and Blake, as long as he isn’t getting posted), so Kobe (or Brown) can roam around more and bother the shooters with his length. (Having Kobe on Kidd isn’t as effective as on some other stars because Kidd isn’t going to wear down and his game is complimentary, hitting open shots, passing, etc.).
4. Defend the pick and roll differently. Nothing is going to “work,” but what isn’t working at all is playing it the same way all game. They need to switch it up (like Atlanta is doing) and trap sometimes (like the first play of the third quarter when Kobe got the steal… and missed the lay), push the dribbler to the sideline/baseline and not let him use the screen sometimes, and other times continue to do what they have been doing (fight over the top, hug dirk and stunt from the weak side…) although hedging is getting them out of position and allowing lobs and threes.
5. Go under the screen on Barea until he hits a couple outside shots. And then if/when he comes in the paint, foul him hard and remind him he’s little.
6. Since Phil refuses to play Lamar at the 3, which I’ve never understood, keep the normal rotation (play Matt Barnes? And not playing Fish with Blake and letting Dallas dictate the match-ups).
7. Stop settling for jumpers.
So I see why and how I think the Lakers can win Game 3. When they do, I think Dallas will be a little shook for Game 4 and whichever team wins that game will win the series. If the Lakers can go into Dallas an win two, which is certainly possible, at 2-2, I think everyone suspects Dallas will fold (and realize they got lucky in L.A.).