Closing Time in Dallas? Mavericks Go for Improbable Sweep of Lakers

2011 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals, Game #4
#2 Los Angeles Lakers at #2 Dallas Mavericks (DAL leads series 3-0)
Best of seven series format, 2-2-1-1-1
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Sunday, May 8, 2011, 3:35 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Mavericks -2 1/2
Current Line: Mavericks -2 1/2
Opening Total: 188
Current Total: 188
Money Line: Mavericks -145 / Lakers +125

For the second time in three games, the Lakers blew a fourth quarter lead Friday night in the Lakers’ 98-92 loss at the Dallas Mavericks. Now the Lakers ore down 3-0 and trying to avoid an embarrassing, improbable sweep. LA hasn’t been swept since the 1999 Western Conference finals against San Antonio. The 2 time defending champions look old and tired and haven’t made any adjustments on their lackluster pick and roll defense. Coach Phil Jackson has always been laid back in his coaching style doing things like not calling time outs when his teams give up a run. He has 11 championship rings as a coach, so he is obviously doing something right. However, he said he will retire after this season, and he seemed almost indifferent to what the Lakers were doing. However, in game 3, Phil Jackson showed more emotion than i have ever seen him show when he tried to light a fire under the passive Pau Gasol by tapping him in the chest hard on two separate occasions. No NBA team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a seven game series. The Lakers certainly have the talent to do that if anyone does. The Lakers have been in every game in the series but just couldn’t finish. Before the series it was the Mavericks who had a soft reputation, but Dallas’s hard nosed defense has won all three games for them.

LA played game 3 without Ron Artest who was suspended for an incident at the end of game two. The Lakers were up 8 points with about 6 minutes to go and looked on their way to getting back into the series. Despite Artest not playing the Lakers bench only scored 15 points. Shannon Brown had 10 of those. Amazingly, the Lakers only had 37 rebounds. For the second straight game, the Lakers were awful from 3 points range hitting only 3 out of 13. They still shot almost 48% from the field and hit 11 out of 14 from the free throw line. LA had 19 assists and 10 turnovers. Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with 21 points, 10 rebounds, an assist and a steal. Lamar Odom added 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block starting in place of Artest. Kobe Bryant had 17 points on 8 for 16 shooting. He didn’t make a three pointer and only went to the free throw line one time. Pau Gasol has struggled mightily during the post season. Dirk Nowitzki has completely owned him on both sides of the court. Friday night Gasol had 12 points on 5 for 13 shooting. He had 8 rebounds and 3 assists. He looks passive and tired and must be more aggressive for the Lakers to even force a game 5.

In game 3, Dallas shot 46% from the field and made 12 out of 29 three pointers. They also made 24 of 29 free throws. Dallas had 39 rebounds, 22 assists and 12 turnovers. The bench scored 42 points for Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki has outplayed Kobe Bryant in this series by a fairly wide margin. Friday night he had 32 points, 9 rebounds, one assist and a block. He was 12 for 19 from the field. Jason Terry added 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals off the bench for Dallas. Peja Stojakovic added 15 also off the bench. Jason Kidd added 11 points and 9 assists.

The Lakers are 7-6 straight up versus the Mavericks in the last 3 seasons, but Dallas is 8-5 ATS in those games. Eight of those 13 games have gone over the total.

Do the Lakers have the heart to keep fighting against almost insurmountable odds or do they just roll over? The Lakers have gone to three straight Finals and won the last two championships. Kobe Bryant is normally fantastic in games where the Lakers are trying to close out teams, but not so much in the few times the Lakers are facing elimination. Kobe averages 22 points a game in his playoff career but the number drops to 18 points in games in Laker elimination games. I could be wrong, and you can never count them out but it seems like the Lakers are ready to go on vacation. There is two much dissension and finger pointing going on. Mavericks win by double digits.

Check out our NBA odds page for the best lines on thisĀ  game and every other NBA playoff game from now until the Finals in June.

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