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Kobe Bryant drew in a double team then kicked out a pass to Derek Fisher who hit a wide open three pointer to give the Lakers a 58-51 lead in the third quarter. Bryant gave Fisher a look as they double-slapped hands after. It’s a look we’ve seen him give his co-captain often. It’s a look that says, simply, “I can always depend on you.”

A similar exchange occurred in Game 1 when Fisher passed to Bryant who scored one from behind the arc that gave the Lakers a 16-point lead in the same quarter. In both instances, however, the Lakers’ leads were short-lived, quickly followed by a Mavericks run that the defending champions could not, did not counteract. Both instances ended in disappointing, we-almost-had-it type of heartbreaking losses, because the Lakers really did “almost have it” in both games. Unfortunately, no Kobe Bryant game winners have come through, and no Derek Fisher clutch shots have occurred. For the Lakers to have won any of these three past games, they didn’t need miracles. They just needed the effort all around.

After telling the media that he thinks his team has trust issues, Andrew Bynum came into this game with that familiar swagger and enthusiasm he’s developed since the All-Star break. He reminded everyone tonight that he can most certainly be trusted. Bynum is fully aware of his body at this point – where it aches, where it’s injured – and he simply doesn’t give a flying fig. He scored 21 points on 9-16 and grabbed 10 rebounds. He even stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and ran his own fast break for a dunk. Tyson Chandler was no match for his dominance around the hoop and he was that, dominant. Unfortunately, after scoring his 21st point on a free throw in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Bynum didn’t get the opportunity to score the rest of the game. Again with the Lakers shutting the door in opportunity’s face.

Kobe Bryant, looking very relaxed, had a good, solid game. He put in 17 points on 8-16 from the field, choosing to get his teammates involved early, handing out six assists in the process. Still optimistic about their chances in this series, Bryant said that the team played well in both Games 1 and 3 but just committed “some of the dumbest defensive mistakes he’s seen all year.”

Yes, defense was definitely lacking in those closing minutes of Game 3, but the Lakers did well enough of it to get the stops to get those leads. There were other areas you could place under the “problems” category. One such lingering issue since the beginning of the playoffs has been the play of Pau Gasol. It’s difficult to place blame on one player, and claim that he would make all the difference but, well, it’s true. When one player has had as huge an impact as Gasol has had in winning the past back-to-back championships, a sudden drop-off in his play will indeed be felt, and the Lakers have been feeling it since Game 1 against the Hornets. Jalen Rose said it best after the game – Pau Gasol has been invisible in these playoffs. That New Orleans series would’ve been a sweep if he put in more effort. And this Dallas series sure wouldn’t be 3-0 in the Mavericks’ favor if he showed any interest in actually winning, but his demeanor on the court, his post-game interviews riddled with the words, “I tried…” are not what you need from one of the leaders on the team.

In three games, Gasol has accumulated just 28 points on 10-22 and 21 rebounds. He can score and rebound in those numbers in ONE game, but over three games? In this game, Gasol had just five points in the first half, and he finished with a mere 12 points on 5-13 and eight rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki can thank Gasol for the numbers he’s posting in this series. Tonight he burned the Spaniard, not to mention the rest of the Lakers, for his 32 points on 12-19. Defense against the German talent has been minimal from Gasol. Even Phil Jackson, usually very calm, got in his forward’s face numerous times throughout the evening, pounding him in the chest to get a point across. There is something not right with Gasol and it’s showing up in his game. It’s as if he’s lost his confidence, barely fighting for rebounds, refusing to drive into the lane to score in the paint, not mention the number of errant passes he’s thrown.

This is unfamiliar territory for the Lakers who, in the past three seasons, have been excellent in closing out close games. Even Lamar Odom (18 points on 8-16, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), who filled in at the small forward position for the suspended Ron Artest, says that their struggles in this series as a team are unexplainable. Andrew Bynum’s solution? “It’s not only 1 person that wins… We’re supposed to do it together.” The Lakers have one more chance to prove they can give the Mavericks a fight. One last chance for Pau Gasol to engage himself into the fabric of this team. One more chance for the defending champions to finally play like it. In 7-game series, it’s finally come to this, so quickly – Win, or Go Home.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts: Forget all the analysis, all the predictions, all the gossip since Game 2. Forget everything. The plan for the Lakers is a simple one – play together for 48 minutes. One team, one mind. With Ron Artest serving a one-game suspension, Lamar Odom has been inserted into the starting line-up in his place. The three big man line-up isn’t a common sight for the Lakers, but all options considered, this appears to be the optimum choice. The Lakers have quite the uphill battle, being down 0-2 and then down a starter, but if there were any time to test out their mental strength as defending champions, tonight would be a good time.
Half-time Thoughts: 51-47 – Well the Lakers look better tonight. With the exception of Pau Gasol who’s got just 5 points on 2-6 in almost 22 minutes of play, every player has come in and played with some purpose and Andrew Bynum is leading the way. Despite two early fouls, he’s already got 14 points on 6-10; even stealing and scoring on a fast break dunk. Dirk Nowitzki is the same as he’s been in this series, scoring a too easy 18 points on 7-12. The Lakers have dominated the paint, 34-12, and that is why they are ahead in this game and that is what will win this game for them – their inside play.
Most Thoughtless Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: 4th quarter collapse and inability to maintain leads – They did it in Game 1 and they did it again tonight. The Lakers built a lead then lost it. Then they couldn’t close the game out despite having even the slightest lead with so little time left on the clock. The Lakers literally handed Game 1 and 3 to Dallas and now they are paying dearly for it, being down 0-3.
Most Thought-filled Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Andrew Bynum – even after getting his fourth foul, and Phil Jackson trying to sub in Pau Gasol, Bynum refused to leave the floor. If that’s not a testament to how far this kid has come from previous injury-riddled seasons, I don’t know what is. He did it all tonight – scored, defended and his energy was exactly what the Lakers needed. Unfortunately, they forgot about him in the fourth quarter and that, too, cost them dearly.

  • Tecun

    Not much can say after a loss like this, however I’ll try encapsulate why we lost in the shortest amount of space. For starters, we went away from what worked in the first three quarters: pounding the inside with Drew and Lamar, attacking the rim, and making an effort to rebound and follow put-backs. Kobe got selfish and started dominating the ball for what seems half of the shot clock, we settled for outside jumpers, and disregarded our inside-outside game. I haven’t seen Kobe be this tentative in his drive to the rim in years. Defensively, all our weaknesses and mistakes are being magnified and taken advantage by Dallas. The weak defensive rotations, the lack of communication, the help defense, proper close outs, and lack of effective perimeter defense is resulting in easy baskets. All year, we’ve had trouble playing defense, with the exception being our 17-1 run, but now more than ever Dallas as seizing and capitalizing off our mistakes. I never give up nor discount myself or my team, so I may be one of the few who believe the Lakers can come back. But the only way we’ll win this series is if we decide to use our strengths on offensive and play solid team defense. Dallas hasn’t won 3 games, we’ve lost two of them, big difference. We’re the more talented team as well as the more tenacious team, let’s start showing some of that pull this series out. Stay strong Laker fans.

    • http://twitter.com/noykarlpogi18 Karl Calaguas

      I agree with you. But, I am being a realist here: I don’t think the Lakers will win this series anymore (I wish they can). I DO believe the Lakers can extend this series to six games IF they play the right way. Either way: I still LOVE the Lakers no matter what!

      PS: If the Lakers don’t give the ball to Bynum, then Howard will also not work because Lakers will not give the ball to him.

      • Big Shot Bob

        I believe the difference with Howard is that he is more assertive in the locker room and would command more respect than what Bynum is doing. Therefore, Howard would be commanding the ball and the team would respond. It’s purely mental for these guys.

        • ICE CREAM MAN

          Good point. Also Bynum on a good night gives you 19 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. Howard gives you that every day and on a good night will get you 40 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks.

    • MavsFan

      I know it’s hard to admit to yourself, but you just have to accept that your once great Lakers are now being owned by a better team. They have finally run into a team that refuses to wilt in the face of the huge sense of entitlement that the Lakers carry with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a way to pull out a win in game 4 (desperation works sometimes), but if you think this Laker team can beat this Mavs team 4 times straight, you’re completely delusional.

      • ICE CREAM MAN

        Well if any team is able to lose 4 straight it is definetly the Mavs. Isn’t that what you guys do best?

        • kristenMcintosh

          d mavs have not showed that this year .get out d past,this is a better team than 06.

        • Robert

          Wow this is why people think you Lakers fans are classless (crass,boorish) I have no team I like still playing but I always root against teams because of their Fans comments and I really want the Mavs now ;)

          • ICE CREAM MAN

            WHAT A DUSH!!!! Ok you go for the Mavs because you feel bad that some one else is bagging on that team? What are you, some kind of gay superhero….Up in the sky, is it a bird, is it a plane, NO it’s …”SUPERDUSH”.

          • Robert

            No never claimed to be anything Just typed what I feel but i guess i have no right to do that without your Intelligent denigration Im humbled by your witty retort I bow I bow your logic is flawless

          • ICE CREAM MAN

            Honestly, the better team won. Good Job guys. Please whoop some ass and keep the trophy in the west. Don’t let the heat or celtics take it.

  • Sir

    Time to blow it up and build around Drew? We definitely need some guys who can actually shoot and make threes, this area of the game kills us.

  • 24ever Lakers

    so what if no team in nba history has comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs? a series is decided by 4 wins not 3. i would not be surprised if the Lakers surprise the world and pull off this series in game 7. they showed they can beat up this Dallas team. the only problem here is themselves. a game is not decided till the final buzzer. if you have a big lead in a game you make it bigger. and the Lakers just fall asleep after that. now the Lakers have to play like they have never played before if they still want to win it all this year. im still in this one. and i believe that this team has the talent and experience to win.

  • Ron

    It’s time for fish to retire because he a can’t score nor can he defend

    Last time I seen Phil Really Get pissed off at a player and snap was Horace Grant(I’m 34 years old)

    He really was pissed off at Pau That rebound where pau couldnt get really was the kill and fisher fouling Terry.

    Lamar too tentative for me

    Steve Blake was a waste of money

    Why is Theo on the team?

    We need a Point Guard If I was GM I would go after Jamal Crawford he can play the point he also can score but other than that we need a bench

  • T411Lakers

    … No need for many words here. I hoped we could flip the switch…but I guess one doesn’t exist. All year long, the Lakers struggled, couldn’t get the 1st seed. Lost to sub par teams again and again. And they still freaking thought they were fine. They made no changes, no trades, ended the year badly, despite destroying teams after the AS Break. And now we are here. A full year of blood, sweat, tears, and driving a dedicated fan up a wall, all for this. So much for, The lakers upgraded so much from last season….and all that other crap. I am VERY Disappointed in everyone. At least Kobe and Bynum tried. And DON’T get me started on Gasol. I have had enough with him. And if this whole your fiancée left story is true…..YOUR PAU GASOL. You can find another one. Overall the lakers don’t care anymore and quite frankly I don’t either. This team has put me through hell this season with their antics..but this is it. If the Lakers cant play the full 48 minutes, and not Blow 16 and 8 Point leads going into the fourth, then why should I watch them. Call me a pessimist. But no Team down 0-3 has come back. And even though I love the lakers…..They are finished now

    • Dlhylton

      I agree with you.

    • Cj

      I completely agree.

  • uweee

    FAITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • laffsatu

    they did flip the switch… too OFF.any-one calling the MAVS soft?worst phil jackson team ever??way to send him out on a low low low note kobe.

  • lakerfanfrom+63

    I still can’t get over from this game 3 loss… Same story in game 1, a Kobe turnover in the final minutes, another careless foul in the closing seconds (with no fouls to give), and another turnover coming from a time out… Another sad thing was in game 2, Staples crowd was booing Pau Gasol… C’mon Staples crowd. Instead of cheering the guy up to “atleast” boost his confidence, he ended up looking desperate to satisfy you… And that booing gave confidence to the Mavs entering game 3 too. Hope the Lakers could just win game 4 so it wouldn’t be a sweep… Feel bad for these Lakers, especially Phil, Pau, Odom, and Bynum… Bynum was giving his A-game on this series.

    • lakerman928

      i completely agree with you my man

    • Sir

      Bynum has been giving his A-game these whole playoffs

  • ICE CREAM MAN

    Now that the game is a couple of hours old I can think more clearly and give my opinion without any anger. The Lakers was in the game up until the last 2 minutes of the game. In fact they were up but could not stop anyone. I just can’t understand why we have a team that will go away from what is winning. Example, “Hey fred, every time I play these lotto numbers I win, so today when the Jackpot is huge I’m going to change the numbers by guessing.”

    We got into the offense too late. We were still trying to get a shot off w/ 2 seconds on the shot clock and at times I saw fisher and gasol pass it off and force kobe into a bad shot. I guess the twin tower dynasty has run it’s course. I would love to Keep Bynum but his knees won’t let me trust him. Even though he was the best Laker in this game I think he is our best card to deal.

    What we need for next season…
    Point guard. That’s it. We are the only team that our point guards cannot take anyone off the dribble. I’ve seen centers get switched on fisher or blake and instead of those guys doing what every other guard does by breaking ankles, we just pass the ball. Fisher cannot guard anyone, cannot score. Time to retire

    Kobe has to understand that he is no longer the Kobe of old only an old Kobe. He is still a good player but is going down hill fast. It’s harder for him to take players off the dribble. He just needs to understand that he has to pass the ball and not do “heat check” way behind the three point line.

    Who can we trade gasol for? I would trade him for Aldrige from portland, Zack randolph from memphis, West from hornets, pretty much anyone w/ heart that won’t fall down after every play.

    • lakerman928

      agree with pretty much everything except the gasol part and the kobe part..kobe is getting older but hes still playing at a much higher level than the rest of the league he still to me top 3 players in the NBA…..and u wanna trade Gasol? the guy tht was the difference for us to make it to the finals 3 years in a row? the guy tht helped win 2 rings in a row? the guy that was voted european player of the year two times in a row? (over dumbass dirk) nooo gasol is playing horrible basketball but to trade or let go of him wud be STUPID! these playoffs although horrible will not define who he really is and he is one of the top players in the world! so this gasol should go talk should really stop because if it wasnt for him laker fans wud have never been so spoiled as we are now.

      • ICE CREAM MAN

        Well the way I see it if Gasol get’s traded or we still keep him then i’m ok either way. I am just dissappointed at him. It’s like a straight A student that you know all of a sudden gets busted for drugs while soliciting a prostitute that’s undercover.

        Gasol should ball in the ghetto during the offseason. Then maybe he can appreciate what he has and hopefully toughen up a bit.

    • Sir

      I wouldn’t say Bynum’s knees are actually bad, like Oden’s are. Haven’t all his injuries happened because he came down and landed on someone’s foot? Just bad luck.

  • Touch Me

    Lakerland, you did predict the 3 peat. You said “have faith” “i see another ring on the way”. Your right we did lack desire and focus. But at the same time we are tired from playing in 3 straight NBA Finals. Obviously they lacked desire and focus this season. Amazing that we are down 3-0 and yoiu are sticking a fork in the Lakers, is it that having faith. You don’t put your faith in crystal balls and when it failed us you change your anwser to oh bcuz of PJ. It didn’t take someone like you to tell us fans that we were gonna win it the last 2 years. Anyways we are not gonna here from you or your crystal ball again. Dallas disciplined us Laker fans good. The Celtics are done.and they suck.

  • ICE CREAM MAN

    If we lose game 4 then so be it. But at least NBA teams, make sure the Celtics and the Heat don’t make it. If the Mavs make it, they better not freaking choke like they did last time. We need to keep the trophy in the west.

    • ilikebasketball

      I want OKC or CHI to win. i dont wanna see that loud mouth Jason Terry, that gnomish Barrea or Cuban to win a ring, or MIA for obvious reason or Boston for obvous reasons.

      Think OKC or CHI can pull it off?

      • ICE CREAM MAN

        Honestly, I think the heat might win it if anyone mess up a bit. But I’m with you, OKC or CHI if the lakers don’t make it.

  • kristen Mcintosh

    I don’t no why so many people think d lakers can’t be beat,they r human professional players like d rest of the teams.lakers fans dont b mad it’s jus time for a new team like dallas to get thier first ring this year.yall mus agree theyl hav a group of bench guys that can start for any team n d league.

    • lakerman928

      “d” learn to spell its “the” idiot

      • kristen Mcintosh

        go down an check yo spelling b4 checking someone else.its not that serious.lakerman!

        • Sir

          No but seriously, why do you type like that? It’s hard to understand sometimes

  • ilikebasketball

    Gasol is a really big dissapointment. I wouldn’t be giving him away next season, in a package with Blake and Artest, maybe? Build a team around Bynum. GET A DECENT PG WHO CAN PLAY D.

    perhaps Gasol wouldn’t have been so tired if he and Bynum didn’t constantly have to run after small pg’s after they got past Fisher and Blake. It was constant this season.

    Mitch screwed up by not trying to fix the obvious problem at mid-season. it was extremely obvious that we were lacking int he PG department. it melted our D. Fisher isn’t fast enough anymore and Blake was found to be worthless 3 months into the game. Maybe Mitch got cocky.

    but rebuilding?

    I want to build around Bynum, the passion he showed last night was astounding. I loved it.

    also…the last two plays that killed us…kobe going one on one and take a horrible forced shot(is that why he’ll never be as great as jordan? did jordan know when to pass better than kobe?) and lamar made one great basket and then took alone again. he pulled a kobe!

    but i’m excited, if we don’t pull out a miracle(which would be amazing), to see where the team is taken, coaching and trades and the like.

    • ilikebasketball

      WOULD be thinking about giving him away next season…not “wouldn’t”

  • lakerd2423

    Don’t give up hope please come on pj will do everything watch we will play as good as the Chicago Bulls in there last dynasty watch don’t give up what kind of fans are u wanting another team to win fuck Don’t do that shit!

  • willmo

    Well this team is going to get blown up like the team that lost in the 2nd round in ’03 when Horry and Shaw were dumped and they brought Malone and Payton in for one of the most unmemorable years in lakers history. Nice of Phil to wait until they are down 0-2 in the playoffs on the road to get off his ass and start coaching when this has been the problem all year, horrible bench with the exception of LO, Pau inconsistent and the double teaming of players that should be played one on one. Fisher this year is washed up and it’s more than obvious it’s time to go out and maybe get someone like Jamal Crawford who will command tons of money but it’s worth it and trade Bynum now that everyone can see that plays well when healthy and offer him up for Dwight Howard. Something big is going to happen this summer cause Dr. Buss ain’t gonna spend this amount of cash if the team is going out in the 2nd round. To those saying we got to rebuild around Bynum I disagree if the guy at 23 is wearing a leg brace and everytime he goes down we have to worry about how much time he’s going to miss, that ain’t a player to build around.

    • ilikebasketball

      it wasn’t just doubling team of players that should be played 1 on 1. 3 guys would swarm

      kobe to me was the most egregious in this. he would leave kidd and would leave jason terry. he just wanders to the middle of the paint, like he was guarding rondo.

      • Sir

        That’s all Kobe has done for the past several years. He rarely plays D anymore, instead opting to leave his man wide open for some great looking shots. Just roaming everywhere, it’s pretty annoying to watch.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6UUB3RDMO3B5TJSHHEVVFJ32AM Cecil

    Regardless of the outcome, i predict Dallas will still not win a Championship. In the last 4 years counting the pre/regular/post seasons the Lakers have played well over a year of BB and this does not include the various Olympics some of the team has played. I am not going to join the losers here who will eventually disappear by putting a team down who has given their fans more then enough memories to last a lifetime. So my hat goes off to the team that has made me feel proud mutiple times this past decade. Thank you Lakesr thank you very much. At least now the Phonies will stop putting up those L.A laker signs on their cars, when i see them i see bandwagoners. Good riddance and goodbye.

  • REAL FAN

    ALL REAL LAKER FANS UNTIL THE END!!!!

    THEY GAVE US TWO RINGS THE LAST THING WE CAN DO AS FANS

    IS BELIEVE EVEN THOUGH ITS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE IF WE, LAKER FANS DONT

    BELIEVE IN OUR OWN TEAM THEN NOBODY WILL.

    LAKERS UNTIL THE END WITH OR WITHOUT RING.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajleff Andrew Leff

    It’s all about turnovers. The Lakers forced the fifth-most turnovers
    in the league during the regular season, but their turnover
    differential this series is only +3–that’s only one additional turnover
    per game. That’s not the type of game a strong defensive team like the
    Lakers should be playing against shooters like the Mavs. Fisher, Kobe,
    and Artest need to be getting into passing lanes, disrupting Jason
    Kidd, and forcing mistakes. That’s not happening, though, and the Mavs
    got assists on 70% of their field goals last night. If the Lakers have
    any chance to come back, it’s by disrupting the passer and creating
    turnovers. Check it out:

    http://bit.ly/jgjjI4

  • Kaceychea24

    Dear thor of basketball
    I’ve seen u eat defenders like Kidd n stevenson at the same time multiple times and i saw when you outscored this pathetic team by yourself after 3 quarters. I mite have been asking too much from you since you enter the league but one last run, one last chance and one last shine for the three peat, i am asking you please take over this series and shiiit on their faces like you used to. They can’t stop you and you can stop them. one more thing, please wake Pau up, smack him, slap him, punch him, kick him or do something to wake that boy up. he is better than that. he too used to eat defenders like dirk alive. Before i leave i just want a three peat and a parade on figuera street this summer one last time. thank you for listening to me Thor of Basketball

  • hoop247

    Dear thor of basketballI’ve seen u eat defenders like Kidd n stevenson at the same time multiple times and i saw when you outscored this pathetic team by yourself after 3 quarters. I mite have been asking too much from you since you enter the league but one last run, one last chance and one last shine for the three peat, i am asking you please take over this series and shiiit on their faces like you used to. They can’t stop you and you can stop them. one more thing, please wake Pau up, smack him, slap him, punch him, kick him or do something to wake that boy up. he is better than that. he too used to eat defenders like dirk alive. Before i leave i just want a three peat and a parade on figuera street this summer one last time. thank you for listening to me Thor of Basketball

  • laffsatu

    at least the CELTICS won a game……..they must TRUST each other.Hey kobe did you see rondo pop his elbow out of joint.?thats a REAL INJURY.

    • hoop247

      hey fag ^^^ fucc u. get out of here

  • NoDefense

    not giving up,lakers could still get back in,

  • Hohaha

    Lakers suck… really bad! Get CP3 and Howard!

  • Rudemander

    Will they win maybe will they lose today that’s a maybe too, but if there is any team that can get out of this hole it is the Lakers. I like everyone else have become very frustrated with the Lakers inconsistent play. However I am sick and tired to hear all this trade talk about Gasol last year it was Bynum. Hey I do think that the rumors are true about Gasol’s relationship problems it does affect people at home as well as work I have seen it personally, people seem to quickly forget that this team was OK and only a playoff contender before the Pau came on board and L.A.as been in the championships for three straight years not many NBA fans can say this and that’s why there are so many haters out there. If the season ends today, soon, or God willing at the end of the finals, I must say thank you Lakers for 3 good fun years and we will try again next year! I will also say this Phil please come back for at least 2 more years!

  • Creighton

    Pick and roll d was weak. The guy that was trailing the person using the screen was left behind, causing the guy guarding the person that set the screen to help out. Doing this, the person who set the pick was wide open. For example, Barea is being guarded by Blake, and Gasol is defending Nowitzki. Nowitzki sets the pick and Barea uses it. Blake is trailing, being left in the dust, while Gasol has to help out. That allows Nowitzki the automatic mid range shot.