Lakers try to even Series Against Mavericks in Game 2 at Staples Center

2011 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals, Game #2
#3 Dallas Mavericks at #2 Los Angeles Lakers (DAL leads series 1-0)
Best of seven series format, 2-2-1-1-1
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 10:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Lakers -6 1/2
Current Line: Lakers -7
Opening Total: 189
Current Total: 186 1/2
Money Line: Lakers -350 / Mavericks +290

Pau Gasol needs to play a lot better in game 2 for the Lakers as they try to even up their series against the Dallas Mavericks. LA is a 7 point home favorite.

At one point in the second half the Los Angeles Lakers were up by 16 points over the Dallas Mavericks. Even with about 3 minutes to play the Lakers were up by 6 and looked to be well on their way to a game one victory. However, the  Mavericks came back to stun the two time defending champs 96-94. It is the second consecutive series the Lakers have lost the first game. The Lakers were down 0-1 to the New Orleans Hornets in the first round before coming back to win that series in 6 games. Dallas is not New Orleans though, as the Mavericks are a deep, talent laden, veteran team built for the playoffs. So what happened to the Lakers in game #1. Well, it was a combination of clutch shooting by Dirk Nowitzki, smothering defense by Jason Kidd, a couple of mental mistakes by Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant uncharacteristically missing some shots at the end of the game, and even some controversial calls against the Lakers. Even with all that the Lakers still had a chance to win on a Kobe Bryant 3-pointer at the buzzer. It looked good going up but bounced off the back of the rim to preserve the Mavericks’ win. Kobe, normally one the most clutch players in NBA history has missed his last 5 field goals inside 15 seconds to go in a game.

The Lakers are 7-4 straight up  against Dallas in the last 3 seasons. The Mavericks are 6-5 ATS the spread in those games. Seven of the last eleven meetings have gone over the total including Monday night’s game one which went over the 189 1/2 total by a half point. The Mavericks are 51-36 ATS in all games this season, including 29-16 on the road, 7-0 in all playoff games this season, 25-10 after 3 or more consecutive wins, 31-16 against teams with winning records, and 28-19 against teams with winning records. The Lakers are 87-105 ATS in all games the last two seasons, including 75-90 as a favorite. The Lakers are 19-28 ATS at home this season.

Dallas is playing without forward Caron Butler and guard Dominique Jones who are both out indefinitely. In game #1, Dirk Nowitzki was fantastic as he has been throughout the playoffs, averaging more than 27 points a game in 7 games. Dirk had 28 points but perhaps more importantly added 14 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. If Nowitzki can rebound like that, it helps the Mavericks by taking some of the pressure off of centers Tyson Chandler and Brendon Haywood playing against the huge Laker front court rotation of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom. Jason terry added 15 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block. Chandler had 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Small forward Shawn Marion added 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Peja Stojakovic added 10 points off the bench. Though point guard Jason Kidd only scored 7 points, he was vitally important in the Mavs’ win. He had 11 assists, 5 rebounds, a block and 3 steals. Two of those steals happened in the last minute and put Dallas in position to win the game. Though he can’t guard Kobe Bryant all the time, Kidd did well enough on Kobe in the latter stages of the fourth quarter in the comeback. Dallas had 40 rebounds, 30 assists, and 11 turnovers. Dallas shot 49% from the field, including 9 out of 20 from 3-point range. Dallas only attempted 11 free throws but made 9 of them. The Mavericks had 15 fast break points, and 36 points in the paint.

The Lakers are increasingly becoming a 6 man team. Now when those six are Kobe, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, and Lamar Odom, you still have one of the elite teams in the NBA. However, for Monday’s game only Bryant, Gasol, and Odom scored in double digits. Kobe led all scorers with 36 points on 14 out of 29 shooting. Kobe had 5 rebounds but didn’t have one assist. The Lakers are a better team when Bryant gets his teammates involved. Gasol had 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. However, he got called for a foul on Dirk Nowitzki on the inbounds pass with about 10 seconds to go, that was questionable but was called because Gasol was too aggressive. Then he tried to pass to Kobe and hit him on the elbow with the ball and Kidd stole it which enabled Kidd to make a free throw that gave the Mavs a two point lead, which proved to be the final score. Much like after the game 1 loss to New Orleans, Kobe was blaming Gasol for not being more aggressive on offense. Lamar Odom added 15 points off the bench along with 12 rebounds. Artest was 1 for 8 shooting from the field and had 2 points. Bynum had 5 points and 5 rebounds when he should have been feasting on the much smaller Dallas frontcourt. The Lakers only shot 43% from the field including 5 for 19 from 3-point range. They made 17 out of 20 free throws. LA had 44 rebounds, 21 assists, and 11 turnovers. They had 15 fast break points, and 46 points in the paint.

The Lakers can easily come back and win this series, and probably will. However, there are some signs of concern for this team. We have seen this act before where the Lakers turn on the switch and play championship basketball. Well, the problem is the Lakers aren’t getting any younger and it becomes more and more difficult to turn on that switch. No one would argue that the Lakers aren’t the more talented team in this series, but Dallas showed a lot of heart and grit Monday night in the comeback. It won’t be an easy series,as the Lakers found out Monday night. LA doesn’t want to go down 0-2 as the series switches to Dallas Friday night. Lakers win and cover in game 2.

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