Give the Mavs props. After trailing by nine with 2:30 left in the first half, they closed out strong, going to the locker room down by one. That would be their formula for the rest of the night as Dallas closed the third a fourth quarters in similar fashion en route to a 101-96 victory.
Still, this was a very winnable contest for the Lakers.
Horrendous turnovers, poor defensive rotations and a Houdini act on the boards spelled doom in Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry lit up the Lake Show like a billboard on the Sunset Strip dropping 31 and 30 respectively.
Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, showed some rust early as he went scoreless in the first quarter before finding his rhythm in the second. After a brilliantly efficient performance in Memphis, Bryant was an inefficient 9-23 from the field scoring just 20 points. Chalk some of that up to Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson making it difficult on KB24. Dallas played some serious D despite the absence of Caron Butler.
About the only bright spot for the Purple and Gold was Lamar Odom who continues to abuse the Mavs this season (12 of his 21 points in the 4th, 7 boards and 5 dimes).
Despite all the negatives, this game was right there for the taking. Too bad the Laker bigs played small once again.
This loss wasn’t all about them but Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were nowhere to be found even though Dallas had no inside presence to speak of. Pau and Drew combined for just 21 points and 17 rebounds.
Pau needs to find his voice out there on the court. When he’s being guarded by a mouse like Eduardo Najera he needs to make like Shy Ronnie and speak up!
As for Bynum, well, this is the story of his young career. Sure he had a double-double (10 points, 11 boards), but that’s only good for fantasy owners and means little to his teammates. With Kobe winded and the Lakers in need of a spark late in the game, the big men shrunk.
And still this game was very winnable.
Kobe had a chance to even the score with 23 second left but his three bricked off the back of the rim and Dallas sank their free throws to seal the deal.
Once again, respect due to the Mavericks. However, the Lakers were their own worst enemies tonight.