The Lakers shot 62% after the first quarter. They led by 10 points in the second quarter. Pau Gasol had 17 points, the Mavericks were outscored 30-16 in points in the paint, and the Lakers had just two turnovers after the first half…then the second half came.
Suddenly, the Dallas Mavericks had found themselves. After a six-game losing streak, the only direction they had to go was up and tonight they finally rose to the occasion, and at the expense of the defending champions.
Dirk Nowitzki (14 points on just 5-15) hobbled every now and then, and Tyson Chandler (6 points, 10 rebounds) was fighting the flu. It’s a good thing the Mavs have such a prolific supporting cast. Before Jason Terry checked into the game, they had gone just 0-8 from behind the arc. They went 12-16 the rest of the way. It was reminiscent of the game against Phoenix earlier in the season – Dallas just couldn’t miss, and the Lakers have only themselves to blame.
Dallas attempted three-pointers of the wide open variety. And by wide open, I mean you could’ve parked cars around Jason Kidd (21 points on 8-12, 5-8 from 3PT) and Jason Terry (22 points on 9-15, 4-6 from 3PT) during their 14 attempts. That’s how much space the Lakers gave them. Instead of rotating their defense, or at the very least, contesting their shots, the Lakers merely watched as Dallas shot them straight of this game.
After such a strong first half in which he scored 17 points and earned his 13,000th point, Pau Gasol scored just six more points in the second. The Lakers’ offense became disjointed, which was a real shame because Dirk Nowitzki is no Kevin Garnett. Gasol dribbled around and shot over Nowitzki time again in the first 24 minutes and could’ve done so all evening if the Lakers had stuck to what was working.
Kobe Bryant had 21 points on 10-18, complemented by 10 assists. Lamar Odom went for 20 points on 8-14 and 10 rebounds. Yet other than the four Lakers in double figures, and Derek Fisher who chipped in nine, there wasn’t much from anyone else. The real difference in this game against Dallas wasn’t just the three-point shooting or the Lakers’ defensive failures. The difference-makers in this game were the reserves.
The Mavericks bench pulled together 57 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. The Laker bench combined for 31 points (20 of which were Odom’s), 14 rebounds (10 boards from Odom) and three assists. To be fair, the Lakers are missing a key reserve in Matt Barnes, but unlike their major contributions to begin the season (and that was with Odom in the starting line-up!), the bench has just been filling in minutes during starters’ rest periods. Rather than coming in to extend a lead or to recover a deficit, Shannon Brown, Steve Blake and Luke Walton check in just to hold a starter’s place and that, simply put, is not nearly enough.
After such an encouraging win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers let yet another game get away from them and are now staring at loss #13. On Friday, they face a still-Nugget Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers are well-versed in playing at Pepsi Center, but if their defense isn’t singing, they’ll be staring at #14.
Pre-game Thoughts: The Mavs have lost their last six games so if anything, they’re desperate to win, especially on their home floor against the defending Champs. Pau Gasol needs to find his inner defenseman to stop Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bynum needs to stay on the floor.
Half-time Thoughts: 56-52 – It’s been a well-paced game so far with very little stoppage. The Lakers shot 62% in the first quarter and they led by as many as 10 points, but Dallas kept the visitors at bay courtesy of the three-ball. The Lakers allowed 7-16 threes for Dallas, most of them wide open. Gasol leads all scores with 17, Lamar Odom has nine rebounds and Kobe Bryant has five assists. The Lakers need to continue to exploit their inside advantage (Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum already have a combined 25 points) and defend the long ball a lot more efficiently.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Lakers’ defense (or lack thereof) – slow to no rotations led to one wide open three after another.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Dallas bench – 57 of the Mavs’ 109 points. Enough said.