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Live from Staples- Lakers vs. Mavericks

March 2, 2008 | 12:31 pm

Saw Mark Cuban in the press dining area before the game.  Nothing else to add to that, but I thought I'd mention it.  In hindsight, not a great story.  Oh well. 

BK with the first quarter...

FIRST QUARTER:

Starting lineups: Fish, Odom, Luke, Gasol, some Kobe dude.  Kidd, Terry, Dampier, Howard, Howard.

As an aside, the older Dick Bavetta gets, the more I like him.  I hope he hangs around until he's 100. 

10:45- More screen and rol issues, as nobody accounts for Dampier going to the hole on the roll.  Easy pass from Kidd for the alley oop.  Got to be tighter than that, especially with Kidd delivering the ball.

9:39- Walton very active on the defensive end.  Forces a steal to draw a foul on one end, then blocks a shot and forces a jump ball with some quick and active hands on the other.  LO is the beneficiary of a goaltend from Dallas, and it's 7-4 Mavs.

7:44- Kidd on Kobe, which is a tough matchup for 24.  Kidd can't hang with the Paul's of the world, but can still body up most two guards and wings.  After posting Kidd down, he passes on a fadeaway to feed a cutting LO, who draws the foul adn goes to the line.  Very good play.  The Lakers ened to stay aggressive without the ball and create good and easy lanes to move the ball. 

Howard picks Kobe up on the next trip down, and Kobe blows by him for an easy dunk.

5:36- Timeout on the floor, Dallas 12, Lakers 11.  After a slow start, the Lakers are finding more space offensively, in part because they're moving themselves around the floor, and not relying on too many isos (save the last four Kobe points, which came off abusing Josh Howard- they'll probably have to go back to putting Kidd on him).  Gasol cutting to the basket on breaks, LO cutting to give Kobe an outlet.  That sort of thing. 

On the other end, they've been hit by a couple pick and rolls, and Kidd has managed to find his way to the basket one one drive. 

Kidd to the bench off the TO, and the Lakers immediately force a TO by putting ball pressure on Terry.  On the other end, a little slip screen on the P and R gives Pau an easy dunk off the Kobe feed. 

4:25- Another good sequence for Luke, who with some hustle on the offensive glass forces the Mavs to lose the ball.  Then on the inbound, he hits the floater off the drive in the lane.

3:39- Gasol gets Dampier deep on the block, then spins baseline and drops the easy two with the left hand.  Still wise, Dampier can't handle Pau, if he can get position against a stronger player. 

19 up.

2:21- Fish drives baseline, draws a double under the basket, but is able to sneak a pass to Gasol moving down the lane.  On the next trip down, the Lakers again take advantage of a double, as Kobe gets the ball at the top of the key, drives, and as three guys move towards him (very moth to flame, actually) he drops an easy pass to Gasol for the dunk.  The key was getting rid of the ball the instant the defenders committed to him.  He still had the space to make the pass, but the defenders had no chance of recovering to stop the dunk. 

Lakers up now 25-21.  Timeout on the floor.  Farmar and Turiaf into the game for Fish and Odom.  Gasol picks up Dirk, who immediately blows by him for an easy dunk.  He'll be able to take Pau into space on the open floor, which is not a good place for Gasol to be. 

:50- Bummer for Luke, who flipped a fantastic pass on his way to the floor, behind his back and spinning to hit Kobe in stride for what would have been a dunk.  Instead, Luke goes to the line for FTS, which he hits.  Lakers up 29-23. 

On the next trip down, Kobe helps Pau, who was again beaten by Dirk fairly easily.  He took just a little too long to get the shot up, though, and Kobe was able to come over with the help to get the block.

END OF THE FIRST:  29-23 Lakers.  LA has done a great job offensively, setting each other up and finding easy looks close to the basket.  Very few instances of settling for jumpers.  Everything on the perimeter has been with a clean look.  Defensively, with Kidd out of the game, the Mavs have been far less effective putting pressure on the Lakers.  LA has put a lot of ball pressure on Terry to get the ball out of his hands. 

The only wrinkle comes with Dirk, when LO isn't on the floor to guard him.  Then he's given an automatic mismatch, because LA doesn't really have anyone else who matches up well with Nowitzki.  Then again, nobody does, which is why the guy has won an MVP.  Solid first 12, all things considered.  AK will have the second.

SECOND QUARTER

11:02 - Man alive, does Brandon Bass come flying in outta nowhere to snag an errant triple from Stack and score the putback.  Nobody put a body on him, but the way he was moving and elevating, I don't think anybody could have.

9:38 - Sasha puts the kibbosh on a pair of offensive boards by Dallas turning into a trio.  His means of stoppage?  Fouling Malik Allen, as opposed to letting him put up a shot and allow a Mav to grab the seemingly inevitable loose ball.  That's two straight Dallas possessions where the Lakers allowed their opponent to clean up and capitalize on their messes.  They're also up 9-2 on the Lakers, all in all.  Can't have that.

There's a trip of fans right behind BK and I with the weirdest, most "finger nails on the chalkboard" voices.  They all sound kinda like McLovin from "Superbad," but with varying vocal ranges.  Granted, this doesn't have much to do with the game itself, but y'all seem to like when we "put you right in the arena," so there you have it.

7:23 - Sasha drives the lane and puts his up a circus shot that almost hits the backboard on its way down.  You could likely give him another 50 tries and he wouldn't sink the same attempt.  Thankfully, he only needs to do it once.

5:23 - Kobe throws down what's likely among the top 5 "uncontested, totally unbothered" dunks of his career, thanks to Sasha swiping the rock from Josh Howard.  I actually expected more of a thunder dunk, but I think there was so little struggle leading up to it that Kobe was kinda like, "Meh.  Doesn't feel right."   

5:07: - Devean George clangs his one-handed dunk attempt into Fish's hand, the Laker possession eventually converting into a 19-footer from LO.  Dude is still among the least accomplished finishers in the league for his athletic abilities.  Always has been.  Likely always will be.  But at least he made up for it but airballing a three ball.

4:11 - I'm saying it's necessary easy for Sasha to prevent Dampier from any "and one" baskets, given the amount of size he's giving up.  But he's gotta do better than the offering he just threw out on that foul.

2:52 - Kobe backs down a few dribbles in the post, then shittles the ball to Fish along arc.  A couple more dribbles followed by a fake left gets Terry to bite and provides him enough space for the long jumper.  Fish has 8 points, but he's also been to the line four times (all converted).  With a 2-7 clip running from the field, it's easy to remain concerned that Derer ain't quite done slumping yet.

2.2 - I'll give this much to Dampier.  He may have hands of stone, but he knows how to use them for cracking a dude while fouling.  Just ask Kobe, who converts one of two from the line after finding himself on the recieving end.

Stackhouse puts up a prayer that falls good from just inside half court, but it came after the buzzer.  The half winds down 50-47 in favor the good guys.  The Lakers have taken Dallas' first quarter shooting percentage from 43% to 37.5, so they're doing something right when it comes to overall D.  Unfortunately, they're getting beaten on the glass (27-22) and still haven't gotten it together when it comes to guarding downtown city limits (7-12).  Thus, they're not doing everything right.  It's harder without Bynum, but the windex needs continual applying.  Don't love the 67% work at the stripe, either.  We'll see what happens in the third with BK at the helm. 

THIRD QUARTER-

10:40- Mavs take the lead on a Terry three pointer on the kick out. Then on the next trip, Dirk drops the ball low to Dampier who had excellent position in the lane on Odom.  54-50 Mavs.

8 :40- Good feed from Kobe to Walton ont he break puts the Lakers back up by two, on the heels of two drives by Kobe to the hoop.  Dallas has cranked it up in the second half for sure.  I have to say, in the long term, I don't know how the Kidd deal will work out, but for now, he's playing very well with them.  I can see the appeal of bringing him in, that's for sure. 

6:30- Kidd drills another shot form outside, this time a three.  He's not a shooter by nature, but th eLakers are giving him way to little respect in that area.  Kobe drifted off of him to double the ball, adn when it went back to Kidd, essentially conceded the shot, which Kidd buried.

5:57- Mavs 59, Lakers 58.  TO on the floor.

3:55- Erick Dampier has Kwame hands.  Though in this case it helps.  His inability to catch the ball cleanly actually gave him an easy dunk attempt.  On the next Dallas trip down, LO blocks Nowitzki.  If he doesn't score another point tonight, LO gets big ups for the work he's done on Dirk tonight.

3:18- Kobe complains that Dampier should have had a flagrant, I guess, but on the replay, it's clear Damier made a play at the ball.  He also took Kobe out with a hip check, but that's how you do it.  If you're goig to foul on the break, make sure the ball doesn't get up to the rim. 

2:35- Tough call on LO at the other end.  Could have been a block, could have been a charge, could have been a non-call.  Ref picked block.  Timeout on the floor, Lakers down 65-61.  Very good Q3 for Dallas.

1:20- Wow!  Great recovery from Ronny on the Kidd move, and good lord, Kidd just juked Sasha in a bad way with a wicked spin move.  That was nifty. 

2.8- Kobe goes to the line with a chance to bring the Lakers to within three heading into the fourth.  He makes them both, and the quarter ends with the Lakers down 68-65. 

END OF THE THIRD- First of all, this has been a very entertaining game.  The Lakers are still doing some good things, but aren't finding those easy buckets that they were getting early.  Only 15 points in the quarter.  Defensively, they're not doing a bad job.  Nowitzki has been neutralized by LO, and overall the Mavs are having to work to get good looks.  Kidd has played well, and had moements where he really controlled the tempo of the game.  The Lakers need to get back to aggressive cutting, and will probably have to start knocking down a jumper or two to keep Dallas from packing down inside.

AK will have the fourth.

FOURTH QUARTER

10:03 - I'm not sure what was hurt more by the dunk by Stackhouse.  The  Laker morale or Stack's back.  That could fill his "elevation quota" for the next three years.  I'm suprised he's not on a stretcher after that.

8:38 - Sasha mishandles a pass from Walton and lets it dribble over the sideline and out of bounds.  It's too far into a game too tight for lapses like that.

8:01 - Walton pushes his way through the painted area, then muscles up the layup for a much needed  laker bucket.  Luke fouls out about a minute later, but with 11/6 and two steals, it's been a pretty good performance, his third in a row.  Hopwefully, it's a sign of a season-long slump falling to the wayside.

6:38 - Kobe initiates some contact from Howard, then gets to the line for two converted freebies.  He's been enduring the odd struggle at the line today, but as his man Shaq used to say, he "makes them when they count."  The Dallas lead is cut to a scant basket, with Pau making it a knotted 79 after sinking two of his own.

5:25 - And speaking of making them when they count, Kobe hits a very deep triple that not only counts (literally and figuratively) but puts the Lakers up by a point.

4:14 -  Sasha used to be known as an "11 O'clock" player, since he was always good during morning/afternoon practice, but couldn't hit anything during an actual game.  This year, he's draining them during the p.m. hours, but is currently suffering through a "Bizarro-Machine" afternoon.  2-8 from the field, with the latest miss coming from behind the arc. Thankfully, Farmar tracks down the loose ball and gives that Kobe Bryant character a chance to make something happen.  He opts for a made mid-range jumpoer.  Avery opts for a timeout.

2:08 - Dirk draws the foul against LO courtest of a Nicholson-worthy flop (Jack actually seemed impressed from courtside) and shoots a pair.  Been a very strangely called game, truth be told.  I don't even think it's been as badly called as totally inconssustent.  The refs spent the first three-ish quarters just letting dudes play (which I'm fine with), then deciding in the fourth to tighten it up.  I hate when that happens.  You can't switch horses in mid-race. 

1:19 - After Dirk cans a very hard-earned basket with LO all in his grill (nothing you can do about that), Kobe one-ups the "work for my bucket" stakes.  And one racked off some contact from Dampier, who's now gotta sit and watch with his sextet of whistles.  I rarely ever say this, but I'm happy Erick Dampier is no longer able to play.

28.5 - Jason Terry cans an impossible floating bank shot amnd

6.1 - Kobe with three GI-NORMOUS clutch plays down the stretch.

a) Stripping Dirk, which led to a frenzied scrum and a quick, missed three by Stackhouse (Gasol may have gotten a piece of it)

b) Snagging the loose ball after LO missed both of his freebies

c) Hitting both of his chances at the line.

2.0- As a guy who's often slagged Dirk for not coming through in crunchtime, I must admit, that three ball to tie it at 93 was big.  Of course, it was made much eaiser by Gasol, who inexplicably decided to hang in the paint after LO was caught up in a screen and only close on the reigning MVP at the last second.  Bad play.  You gotta hang with him from downtown.  Give him the two if needed and let your team work from one up.  But you can't allow him a tying bucket.  Which is what it turns out to be.  And that means only one thing.

FREE BASKETBALL!!!!!!!!!

OT    

4:43 - Sasha ain't been hitting the borad side of the ocean today, but picked a HUGE time to come through with a trey ball.  The Lakers are first strike.   With Kobe quickly adding to the mix, it's a five point Laker lead.

1:49 - After Dirk hits a pair (foul on Pau), it's a four point Laker lead.  Which is two tight for Kobe's liking.  Couple of dribbles just outside the elbow for the pull up J.  Kobe's 50th point puts the Lakers up by 6.

9.4 - Not sure what shocked me more: Pau giving Kidd a Cottonelle-cushiony foul as the newbie Dallas member attacks the paint (either knock the crap out of him and make sure the basket doesn't go or concede.  That helped nada).  Or Kidd, a 78% career marksman at the stripe and a pretty cool cucumber to boot, missing.  Kobe comes down with the loose ball for his 11th board and sends both attempts through the cylinder.

LO cinches the ball game by making one of two down the stretch, which cancels out any potential damage had The Jet's prayer gone down.  108-104 Lakers.  A big time effort from Kobe helps make this one go down easier.  52/11/4, to be exact.  And not nearly as much help as he's gotten on average.  Some solid supporting work can be credited to Luke Walton, Pau Gasol (defense aside), Sasha (all D) and LO on the glass and defensively.  But all in all, this was one of those times where the league's best player needed to carry his squad for rather large chunks of PT.  Thankfully, that's been considerably more rare occurance this seasion. Thanks for dropping by.  More to come later.


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