Game Notes: Mavs at Lakers
by Ben Collins
There are some people in this press conference room who want some answers. They’re wondering when the Mavericks got good at defense. Tyson Chandler has totally transformed them, they’re saying, like they just saw a shooting star and were telling a small child.
Fine, Dirk Nowitzki’s over here just trudging towards a championship all by his damn self. Trudge, trudge, trudge. Free throw, free throw, free throw. Boring.
This defense has been good for years. That’s not the problem. The problem is—and say it with me—Dirk Nowitzki has no help.
But, oh, it doesn’t even matter anymore. Dirk Nowitzki might win a championship this year anyway. He and the Dallas Mavericks, but mostly he, defeated the Lakers in Game 1 in Los Angeles, 96-94.
It is a grueling exercise to say how he did it, so we’ll do this: You know those shots Zach Randolph has been hitting lately, the high-arching jumpers that go in regardless of coverage? They’re like works of art, really, and they go in all the time, especially the important times, especially when they’re not supposed to.
Well, it’s that shot exactly. Over and over again. About eight of Dirk’s 11 buckets tonight were that exact shot. He’s been doing that for about 10 years now, he just wasn’t awful three years ago, so it didn’t provide contrast.
So sorry. This Mavericks team is not sexy. It is just up 1-0 in a series against the favorites in the West.
Oh, those favorites in the West. Everybody but Kobe was asleep. Kobe was electric, as usual. He had their first seven points. He got so hot he was chucking heat checks and some of them were going in. It invigorated no one.
When they needed answers not named Kobe in the last three minutes, when the Mavericks were able to move every defender onto Kobe until one worked (it was Jason Kidd), no one was awake.
“We went in the locker room and felt like we gave the game away,” said Phil Jackson. “Not sure we felt like Dallas outplayed us.”
Then Phil Jackson said something a little more prescient. He realized he wasn’t giving any specific strategic reason why the Lakers lost in the press conference. He was getting anxious.
So he said this: “Here, guys, I’ll give you guys some help. The game was won in the third quarter when we stopped playing defense and stopped playing offense, basically.”
Boy, did that ever sound like code for, “This team is asleep and I don’t know if I can wake them up in time.”
The Lakers are the better team. Everybody knows it. Kobe knows it.
“We don’t do it purposefully,” he said, about getting into these holes. “I assure you.”
This might sound a little stupid, but the visitor’s locker room after the game was the most optimistic 60×30 space I’ve been around in a long time.
The Mavericks were down 16, by the way, in the third quarter. This is supposedly the emotionally fragile team, the sad loose cannon, the guy who gets drunk and talks about kicking his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend’s ass, but winds up getting drunker and monopolizing your night with their crying. They collapse.
Well, that phase is apparently over.
If the Lakers don’t wake up by Wednesday, this might be the year Dirk Nowitzki wins an NBA Championship all by himself. We’ll have to deal with the consequences of what that means later.
He just came into the press conference room and snatched the mic, holding it in his hand to answer questions. He’s like Nas up here. Everyone’s very impressed. Yeah, pay attention to that. Write your stories about that and this brand new Dallas defense.
This guy’s been a monster for a decade.
- Great anthem from a 14-year-old. And a completely unobnoxious reaction from this LA crowd. Sometimes this city’s inability to care about anything is very attractive.
- Wow, an ad for the Hangover 2 on the 100-foot drapes during the Lakers intro. That’s a good sign for the future.
- This is an ESPN headline: “Giants’ Coughlin processes bin Laden’s death.” I don’t know what this story is actually about, but I’m glad that it reads like a robot or small child who was previously incapable of grasping the concept of dying.
- Kobe opens it up with a contested J. They’ve got DeShawn Stevenson one-on-one on him.
- Dirk hits a very contested J over Pau. It’s going to be a lot of that. 2-2.
- Kobe is eating Stevenson alive. Hits a contested three. Hits a dive-cut layup. Kobe 7, Dirk 4. Lakers 7, Mavs 4.
- Everybody watch Peja Stojakovic try to cover Lamar Odom and laugh.
- Dirk hasn’t missed yet and none of his shots have looked makeable by a human being. 16-12, LA.
- DeShawn Stevenson can’t hit anything, but I’m not sure he can afford to sit. He’s the only person who can pretend to cover Kobe one-on-one.
- Oh, nevermind, he’s still getting killed by Kobe, too. The only times they’ve stopped Kobe are when Chandler comes over to help.
- Kidd hits a very contested three. If he’s going to do that, the Lakers can win this series.
- Terry for a corner three. The Mavs have a severe paint allergy, but lead 21-19.
- Kobe’s been utterly dominant, the Mavs haven’t attacked the paint more than three times, and the Mavs are up 23-19.
- Just making a note: The Mavs were up 23-21 when the Barea-Terry backcourt came in. Get ready for some suck.
- 25-23, Mavs. Kobe’s awake. Nobody else is.
- I stand corrected. Maybe Terry/Barea works against Brown/Blake. They were +2 with them on the floor in the first stint. Color midget impressed.
- I mean “color me impressed.” Sorry. Just slips out sometimes.
- Bynum dunk. Haywood dunk.
- Crazy beautiful, no-look pass from Gasol to Bynum for a free dunk.
- Watching Dirk work for foul shots is almost at Tim Duncan-level tedium, which means he might win a championship entirely by himself this year. 38-33, Mavs.
- You’d have to chemically engineer a pillow to find something softer than Peja Stojakovic. He misses a transition layup.
- Jason Terry is looking for an outlet quickly after every miss. Transition everything, this time a 16-footer. 40-37.
- John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell just dominated the kiss cam after taking bites from a sandwich.
- Terry is 5-of-6. The Mavs are going to start missing these at some point, but it’s not now, so they’re up 42-39.
- Fish goes the length of the floor and gets a layup and a foul. 43-42.
- Chandler and Gasol get T’d up for jawing. The Yo Gabba Gabbization of the NBA continues.
- 10-0 run to end the half. Mostly free throws and Derek Fisher layups. Can’t wait for a Lakers-Hawks Finals!
- Hold up! It’s not over. Kobe is sort of fouled by Jason Terry with 0.7 left. Then Dirk gets a technical for an elbow on the rebound. Way to take over, refs.
- Wait, just saw the replay. Looks much worse slowed down. Looked like no contact to the naked eye. 53-44, Lakers. I’m willing to call that a collapse.
- Two straight Mavs turnovers to start the half. A quick layup and Pau dunk for the Lakers. 57-44, LA.
- Another turnover. Kobe transition 3. 60-44. 7-0 Lakers run in the first 1:23 of the third quarter.
- Patio furniture. That’s it. They’re folding like patio furniture.
- From Twitter: marcel_mutoni: Rick Carlisle’s halftime speech: “Failure is inevitable.”
- I… I can’t top that.
- Corey Brewer comes in. Is active. Gets Dirk a 3-point play.
- Corey Brewer’s still in. Still active. Gets Chandler a putback.
- Kidd three. Brewer oop. Dirk J. 64-58. Here’s your steady crawl.
- Corey Brewer, who the announcer is calling “Ronnie Brewer,” just hit a three. You don’t need to know his name to know this run is all on him. 64-61, LA. Timeout, Lakers. Just took four minutes to get it down from 16.
- It’s easy to blame Rick Carlisle for not bringing him along sooner, but… you know what? Just blame Rick Carlisle.
- Kobe with a tourniquet jumper. 66-61, LA.
- Kobe just ate Brewer alive on a jabstep three. 71-64. He has 27.
- Kobe with a block on Marion, who had just iso’d on him. Yep, every sentence starts with “Kobe” now. Get used to that.
- Kobe for 3. He has 30. 15 in the quarter. 74-68.
- And on the 11th minute, Kobe rests. 78-71
– Kobe’s out. It’s gonna get close.
- Dirk backdown J. 78-74.
- Barea to Peja. 78-76, LA
- Dirk transition 3. 80-79, LA.
- JJ Barea literally just did a tumble roll after a layup. 82-81, Lakers. Sweet God. Sometimes I’m really wrong about him.
- Lamar gets a step on Dirk and blows by him for a layup.
- Kobe iso. Kobe jumpshot. It’s good, obviously. 88-85, Lakers.
- Lamar over Peja. Like a steak knife through butter.
- No, like a space shuttle through butter. More accurate. 90-85, LA.
- Dirk, plastered in coverage, hits an elbow J. 90-87.
- Terry one-on-one on Kobe. Too easy. 92-87.
- Kidd to Chandler on a vicious alley-oop. 92-89.
- Tough Marion bucket at the end of a shot clock. 92-91. 1:15 left.
- Kidd is essentially locking down Kobe.
- Kobe jumper. Yep. 94-91.
- Dirk jumper. Uh-huh. 94-93.
- Terry steal. Fouled. Sideline out-of-bounds. 20.3 left.
- My guess: Dirk elbow iso.
- Pau fouls Dirk on the inbounds by mistake.
- He hits both. He’s Dirk Nowitzki. 95-94, Mavericks.
- 19.5 left. My guess: Kobe iso.
- Kidd takes a foul with 8.8 left.
- Kidd overplays the pick and roll and gets a steal. No foul call.
- Kidd is fouled. Wow.
- He hits one. 96-94, Mavs. 3.1 left.
- He missed it. Kobe missed it. A 3. Mavericks win.
On that weird, end-of-half sequence: “The last ten seconds of the first half are things that may never have to this team again ever. We need to forget about that. It should’ve been a five-point game and it wasn’t.”
Carlisle on Brewer: “We needed energy.” “He knows about big games. He won two straight national champions.”
Carlisle on Kobe: “He’s great. He may be the best that there is right now. It becomes a scramble at the end of the game.”
“We went in the locker room and felt like we gave the game away. Not sure we felt like Dallas outplayed us.”
“No. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t know how to handle it. We’re just gonna go to him.”
“Here, guys, I’ll give you guys some help. The game was won in the third quarter when we stopped playing defense and stopped playing offense, basically. They changed the tempo of the game, they got runouts, and made us pay for it.” Fair enough.
Phil left this press conference mid-question.
“The game slows down more when you get older.”
Is that phase of letting leads slip away ending? “I think so. We’ve got a bunch of veterans. We had a huge loss there in Portland, Game 4. Came right back an executed in Game 5 and Game 6.”
“We don’t do it purposefully, I assure you.”
Did Kidd do anything to get you out of your rhythm: “(Laughing) No.”
“You mean, should I check myself in? No, I’ve never done that before. I’m too cultured for that.”
“My concern is that this team can beat us.“