Dallas Mavericks win again as Los Angeles Lakers’ title push falls apart - Part 2
The third quarter was fairly even until the end, when a 6-2 burst by the Mavs gave them a six point advantage, going into the final period. Both the teams struggled to get past each other’s defence in the third. The Lakers especially had a torrid time, scoring just 13 points all quarter.
With Kobe Bryant off the boil and their bigs - Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol - restricted by a slew of 7-footers on the Mavericks team, the Lakers looked to their role players to provide some impetus. However, no one answered the call for the Lakers and their offense fell flat just at the wrong time.
The third period also saw Pau Gasol booed by the home fans after getting blocked by DeShawn Stevenson, when he attempted to take the ball to the rim. Lakers head coach Phil Jackson spoke after the game, of his surprise at Pau being singled out like that by the fans,
"I was kind of surprised about that...there are some things that obviously didn't look good out there for Pau."
The Lakers completely fell apart in the final quarter. The Mavs kept on rampaging the Lakers’ back line and with every passing second, the agitation level in the highly expectant crowd increased.
The Lakers defence was completely flat down the stretch and it looked on helplessly as the Dallas bench took over the game. Jose Barea was the pick of the bunch with 8 points. Barea not only scored himself but also created opportunities for his teammates, penetrating the Lakers defence at will. The Dallas reserves outscored the Lakers’ starters 16-15 in the final period. Lakers had 19 overall in the fourth frame.
When Derek Fisher brought the score to 69-75 with seven minutes left to play, the Lakers were expected to mount a run and set up an exciting finish. However, Dallas proceeded to score 9 unanswered points and killed off any chance of a Lakers revival. They stretched the lead to 15 points in the final period and the game ended with a double digit victory for Dallas at 81 – 93.
Los Angeles bad boy, Ron Artest poured further misery onto his team right at the death, when he hit Barea in the face with his arm. The officials took a dim view of his actions and he was ejected with a second technical.
There was a lot wrong with the Lakers display on the night, but they particularly had a horrid time from downtown. Los Angeles failed to connect even a single shot from downtown for the first three quarters of the game. Their 1st three came with just 2:43 left on the clock. They hit another before the end to make it 2-of-20, a shocking 10 percent.
Despite the dominance of Dallas, star forward Dirk Nowitzki warned his side against any complacency. Dirk said after the game,
"This series is far from over. I've been around a long time. I've been up 2-0 before and ended up losing the series...we have to stay focused, stay together, let our home crowd rise us on Friday, and hopefully get another great win."
The next two games of the Western Conference semi-final series are at Dallas. If Los Angeles don’t get their act together in the next game, they will go 3-0 down in the series, a deficit no game in NBA history has overcome.