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Oklahoma City and Lakers have similar problems with Mavericks

Photo: Dallas center Dirk Nowitzki, left, fights for position with Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka during the fourth quarter of the Mavericks' 121-112 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday. Credit: Jerome Miron / U.S. Presswire / May 17, 2011. No matter who guarded him, how closely his opponent contested the shot or how off-balance his jumpers became, nothing stopped Dirk Nowitzki from scoring.

No matter who guarded him, how hard his opponent tried to shut off the driving lane and how quickly the defense switched, nothing stopped J.J. Barea from driving to the rack.

And no matter who guarded him, how his opponent closed out on the perimeter and how long his shots from three-point range became, nothing stopped Jason Terry from firing from downtown as if he had the NBA Jam's "fireball."

It sounds like I'm simply rehashing the Lakers' problems when they fell in a four-game sweep to Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals. Yes and no. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom surely felt overwhelmed and frustrated with Nowitzki's penchant to hit off-balance jumpers. No one put a stop to Barea's quickness other than Bynum's late cheap shot in Game 4 that earned him an ejection. And the Lakers' defense rarely closed out on Terry from three-point range. But the Thunder experienced the same problems in its 121-112 Game 1 loss Tuesday to the Dallas Mavericks as the Lakers did in all four games against the Mavs.

Nowitzki's 48-point effort features a playoff-record 24 consecutive free throws, making 10 of his first 11 shots and pulled off his acrobatic shooting despite six different players guarding him. Barea breezed past defenders with ease with a quick crossover and first step en route to 21 points. And the Mavericks' nine of 23 mark from three-point range may have paled in comparison to the 20 treys they made in Game 4, but it's clear that a 10-day layoff did nothing to quell their sharp shooting. 

It's too speculative to think whether the Mavericks will hand the Thunder a four-game sweep. As poorly as the Lakers played, they could've taken Game 1 had Kobe Bryant made a game-winning three-pointer or the Lakers didn't unravel in the final two minutes. Likewise, Kevin Durant put up an impressive showing with 40 points on 10 of 18 shooting and the team appeared in high spirits even when they went through a 6:28 second-quarter stretch without scoring. It's too presumptuous whether Russell Westbrook's three-of-15 showing will make him the second version of Gasol's disappearing act. He very well may have had just a bad shooting night. And it's too early to believe the Thunder won't make adjustments in Game 2. 

But with all the offseason handwringing over the Lakers' disappointing playoff exit, one thing they should continuously remember is they lost to a legitimate opponent. Respecting their opponent had long been a problem for the Lakers, which remained consumed with their own play, almost to a fault. As likely as it is the Lakers would've beat Dallas had Gasol played like his normal self, Bryant closed out games better and the supporting cast didn't prove so unreliable, the Lakers' psyche rarely considered, or at least acknowledged, the reality that other teams kept improving. In addition to their overall boredom with the regular season and heavy basketball mileage, their mindset that they remained invincible so long as they tried contributed to their downfall.

"We got cocky and played cat and mouse with the rest of the league," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "They were gunning for us and we took it on the chin pretty good. We just couldn't recover. You have to tip your hat off to Dallas."

-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Dallas center Dirk Nowitzki, left, fights for position with Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka during the fourth quarter of the Mavericks' 121-112 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday. Credit: Jerome Miron / U.S. Presswire / May 17, 2011.

 
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Ya, the refs.

Very happy for Dirk and Jason kidd and I hope they win it all!!

Sometimes it is hard to enjoy watching another team's success, but I think we all owe it to ourselves to sit back and appreciate what Dirk Nowitzki is doing.

Last night was perhaps the greatest shooting display in the history of the NBA. Dirk shot the ball a total of 39 times last night (15 field goal attempts, 24 free throws). Of those 39 attempts, the ball went in the basket a remarkable 36 times. These weren't a series of dunks, layups, or uncontested easy shots. Serge Ibaka lived in Dirk's uniform last night and still the big guy hit 12 of 15 from the field.

Seriously, three misses in 39 attempts in a conference finals game is something I have never seen before, and am unlikely to ever see again. The fact that he does so with class and without pounding his chest makes it very, very hard to root against Dirk. Consider me duly impressed....

Let's start rebuilding NOW NOW NOW!!!! We can't win any championship against MIAMI, Bulls, and DALLAS...

Too much talent, skills, focused, quick, fast, athleticism, and plays team ball....

...it just got ALL caught up with this LA TEAM...... majority are cocky, not focused, slow, do I say more....

IT'S NOT THE COACH SO MUCH THAN GETTING NEW PLAYERS...

LET'S REBUILD NOW NOW NOW!!!!

mary chandler...you said trade Kobe?? Are you serious? My advise, look at the mirror and ask yourself this question? How many players in the NBA right now has the talent, passion and knowledge in basketball besides Kobe? You are talking one of a kind player here and only comes in trickles in 20 years....

Posted by: appolo c. vermont | May 18, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Appolo C. Vermont,

There's an old adage in Wall Street: "YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST SALE."

.... I might be just 14 years old now, but, one day, I will own acquire the LA LAKERS AND I WILL KEEP IT WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP UNDER MY WATCH..... IT'S ALL ABOUT PURE BUSINESS/ MONEY AND ENTERTAINMENT.... I WILL GIVE THE LA FANS MORE FOR THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY AND ENTERTAINMENT...... NO ROOM FOR WEAKNESS.... I AM ABOUT SHREWDNESS, RUTHLESSNESS, NO EMOTION, CUT THROAT, & KILLER INSTINCT!!!!

Mary Chandler aka Mad Scientist ........ hehehhe LOL LOL!!!!!

Let's start rebuilding NOW.... trade KOBE & FISH for NOWITSKI & JJ BAREA

As likely as it is the Lakers would've beat Dallas had Gasol played like his normal self, Bryant closed out games better and the supporting cast didn't prove so unreliable, the Lakers' psyche rarely considered, or at least acknowledged, the reality that other teams kept improving.

-- Mark Medina

Shouldn't Kupcake, Jimmy and the "toy boy"/"boy toy" be responsible especially for the … "the Lakers' psyche rarely considered, or at least acknowledged, the reality that other teams kept improving." … part?!

Or Jeannie?!
Forgot, she cares only about the Lakers Girls. Does not put points on the board.

Obviously "cheer leading" is not the best "defense."


Very happy for Dirk and Jason kidd and I hope they win it all!!

Posted by: Norcal | May 18, 2011 at 11:53 AM

+16

"KobeMVP888, the PSP still has a warrant out for you ....

Thanks
PSP Officer

Posted by: Practice Season Police | May 17, 2011 at 08:05 PM "


Hahah. I would like to hear him out on this and see if he has changed his views at all. I know it's uncomfortable to make a lot of very bold statements and be in a position for everyone to tell you how wrong you were but he shouldn't have to hide from it. I think we've all been wrong about a lot of things this year.

I think of all the teams remaining, I'd most prefer to see the Mavs win. My least favorite would be the Cheat. I hate Clay Bennett so I can't cheer for the Thunder, and I have nothing against Chicago other than they are a total juggernaut in the making.

If the Mavs take the championship, the Laker fans can at least take solace
that they lost to the ones that got the championship rather than a lower end
team that they should not have lost too.

Either way, the Laker's being swept means there will have to be a house
cleaning done soon. Perhaps they will be over the sense of entitlement
they had and put out a real effort more often?

******REPOST******

@Rocky

I believe that the Islamic faith adheres to "thou shalt not make false images of a g**". Kareem is a basketball g**. Therefore, no statue. LOL

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Plaschke has always been a moron. Just a notch above Simers.

Yeah, that's all we need for a coach, Jeff "The Ankle Biter" Van Gumby. Defensive scheme: Bite the ankle of the other teams best player.

[INSERT EMPTY VOID HERE]

yup, the trio of Dirk, Terry, and Barea is pretty devastating. Dirk and Terry are consistent performers, but the emergence of Barea has really added something to the Mavs that the league hasn't caught up with yet. Then to have J Kidd setting the table for those guys is a pretty good situation. Yet, the focus on the Mavs, thanks to coach Carlisle and a mature Tyson Chandler, is all about defense. It has all come together for the Mavs and Mark Cuban this year. This is their chance.

The Lakers better come with a strong gameplan to beat this team next year. Can't wait!!!

Go Lakers!

It’s funny that OKC acquired Perk to matchup with the Lakers, but in this series they would be better suited with Green and Krstic.

Today I must salute Dirk….24-24 from the line = Perfection
Lou Reed – Perfect Day
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uri6LLCZVjg&feature=related

re: Last night was perhaps the greatest shooting display in the history of the NBA. Dirk shot the ball a total of 39 times last night (15 field goal attempts, 24 free throws). Of those 39 attempts, the ball went in the basket a remarkable 36 times. These weren't a series of dunks, layups, or uncontested easy shots. Serge Ibaka lived in Dirk's uniform last night and still the big guy hit 12 of 15 from the field


my response: shouldn't we consider Dirk to be a ballhog?

The fact that the Thunder shot 7 more free throws than the Mavs should silence any "Ya, the refs" talk. Not to mention that the fouls on Dirk were reach-in fouls, not tacky mis-calls anyway.

trade Kobe for Nowitski

WE MUST GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE. NOWITZKI IS PLAYING AS GOOD IN THE POST SEASON AS ANY BODY INCLUDING THE YOUNG "WONDER" MR. ROSE FROM CHICAGO. THE PRESENCE OF TYLER CHANDLER SEEMS TO HAVE IGNITED THIS TEAM ALSO. THIS IS A VERY, VERY DIFFERENT DALLAS TEAM. I DO FEEL THOUGH EVEN THOUGH IT SEEMS THAT NO ONE HAS BEEN ABLE TO PLAY DIRK. IF YOU WATCH MOST BIG MEN, DIRK INCLUDED, THEY HOLD THE BALL LOW BEFORE BRINGING IT HIGH. A QUICK HANDED PLAYER WHO IS EFFICIENT IN STRIPPING THE BALL IN MY OPINION WOULD BE ABLE TO SOME WHAT NEUTRALIZE DIRK'S EFFECTIVENESS. I'VE WATCHED HIS MOVES AND ESPECIALLY HIS FEET AND HIS FEET TELEGRAPHS HIS MOVES. YOU JUST HAVE TO BE QUICK ENOUGH TO CHALLENGE THAT UNUSUAL SHOT THAT HE HAS. HE IS A GREAT PLAYER, BUT IF YOU WATCH HIS FEET AND HIS ANGLE THEY WILL TELEGRAPH HIS MOVE. I BELIVE A QUICK PAIR OF HANDS THAT ACTED BEFORE HE GOT INTO HIS RYTHM WOULD ACTUALLY THROW OFF HIS TIMING. EVERY GREAT PLAYER HAS A FLAW. YOU JUST MUST BE ABLE ATTACK THAT FLAW AND TURN IT INTO YOUR ADVANTAGE. OKLAHOMA HAS A VERY QUICK TEAM. WHILE I THINK THEIR YOUTHFULNESS AND LACK OF EXPERIENCE WILL EVENTUALLY DOOM THEM. I THINK THEY HAVE THE SPEED AND THE HANDS TO COUNTER ACT DIRKS EFFECTIVENESS. THEIR PROBLEM IS ARE THEY ABLE TO ACHIEVE THIS MISSION. ONLY TIME WILL TELL. PSALMS 19

So with two of the top 4 picks in the draft, it isn't all that bad to be a Cav fan again. Everyone is saying Kyrie Irving is the no. 1 pick. That's pretty high for a guy who didn't even play this year, he must be real good. Derrick Williams is a stud, so if the Cavs pick Irving, he better be good.

In my opinion, if the Cavs were to pick Derrick Williams and another stud Kawhi Leonard with the 1 and 4, they'd be doing real good for themselves. They don't really need a PG, they already have Baron and Sessions. At the 3-4 spots, they have Alonzo Gee and Samardo Samuels, those guys need to be replaced. Williams and Leonard would be the upgrades that they need at those positions.

Picking these two guys (Williams and Leonard) would give the cavs the depth that they need to compete as early as next year, while selecting a duo of projects like Irving and maybe Kanter from Turkey would be a risk. If I'm the Cavs, I want a sure thing.

Go Lakers!

"my response: shouldn't we consider Dirk to be a ballhog?"

Posted by: hobbitmage

A reasonable question. My answer would be "no" for two reasons:

1. The Mavericks offense is designed to feature Dirk at the high post. If the shot is there, he's the best guy to take it, and if the defense reacts and tries to double him, it is his job to pass it to the open shooter. Last night, the Thunder did not double Dirk, so it was actually his job to take those shots.

2. I am a strong adherent of the Stu Lantz theory of "letting success be your guide." That is, if you have it going, then keep shooting. If they keep fouling you and sending you to the line, keep doing what you're doing. When you are not in that zone, then you run your offense (which, as described above, generally requires Dirk to take those shots). Considering that Dirk was literally not missing shots, there's nothing ball hogging about that. Moreover, 48 points on 15 field goal attempts is hardly the sign of a ball hog.

they got cocky , like Odom said,, you could tell w/ their body work by watching their game. other teams are too hungry, play with their heart,,not the lakers,,lazy style.. I am a Kobe fan last decades,,but Lakers didn't play like they want to play..shame !! the way they get pay..expect of course, Kobe..he played hard,, but Basketball is a team play,,one man can't win.. but what happened to Pau ? that is a mistery...and Lakers desperately need a Young, speedy, hungry PG.. look other teams,, they have speedy, young PG who can score the points...not Lakers..

F the Mavs.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Great performance by Dirk indeed, good for him.

However, I'm glad i didn't watch the game.

24 FT for Dirk
18 for Westbrook
19 for KD

Did the 3 of them all turned into Shaq (from 2000)?

LOL @ Jon K's comment.

I assume you saw this Kobe parody.
If not, you must.

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/14820e72b5/kobe-byrant-s-post-game-meltdown

F Dallas!

It was very pirty that Lakers was out of the game!

If the Lakers get their own PG that can cause havoc... *ahem* CP3... it goes without saying the Lakers can come back...

The sad part in all this is Farmar and Sasha always played hard... and attacked. It was obvious that they were missed. Tho Artest was needed last year... Ariza would have been useful this year...

Anyway, a back court of CP3 and KB will be forward looking... unfortunately, for that to happen... The Lakers will have to clear space to get CP3. I think they will have to release Lamar and Bynum or Gasol... We have no one else of value outside of Kobe... If Bynum goes, then Dwight has to come in and be that intimidating presence...

In this way... the Lakers will have a core that will be Post-KB... A CP3/Dwight combo with shooters wanting to play would be set for another 5 years...

One can dream... Alas, if Farmar, Sasha, and Ariza were still around I think this team gets to the Finals...

Nowitzki should have been a Laker

We can't root for a team that took our refugees in for one season and gave them a place to play, just cant happen thats too respectful, and people from New Orleans arent like that, its cut throat, were probably gonna lose the hornets anyways and may even lose the Saints to big market. http://bit.ly/m1eIn4


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