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Dallas' 2011 championship team featured many assets the Lakers lacked

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Privately, Lakers forward Ron Artest believed the team would have no problem handling the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals. Said Artest on ABC 7's "Sportszone": "I thought we were going to sweep them."

Publicly, Lakers forward Matt Barnes pointed to the Lakers' regular-season victories against Dallas and drew experience when he played with the 2007 Golden State Warriors team that knocked off the Mavericks as a No. 8 seed. Said Barnes a few days after drawing a one-game suspension for getting in a tussle with Mavericks reserve guard Jason Terry: "In Golden State, we showed how to beat Dallas [in the 2007 NBA playoffs.] You go in there and take it right to their chin and they back down. I don't see anything has changed since then, so hopefully we'll have a chance to see them again."

It turns out Artest, Barnes and the rest of the Lakers eat their words. As they soon discovered, these weren't the Dallas Mavericks that would fall short much like the way they did in falling in the first round three out of the past four seasons. In fact, the complete opposite happened. The Mavericks swept the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, proved their upset was legit with playoff victories against Oklahoma City and Miami and forced Artest and Barnes to change their stance on Dallas.

Said Artest: Dallas had a strong 12, which was amazing.

Tweeted Barnes: "Congrats to the mavs, you definitely earned that.."

In fact, there were several areas Dallas excelled in that the Lakers severely lacked, and we're not just talking about when the two matched up in the playoffs. We're talking about during Dallas' entire playoff run.

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Clutch player

Time and time again, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki made fall-away jumpers even with hands in his face. Even if he had an initial rough shooting night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, that didn't stop him from taking over in the fourth quarter, a stretch where he'd average 10.3 points during the playoffs. And he averaged 27.7 points per game in the playoffs came against constant double teams and off balance shots.

The Lakers usually have that luxury in Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, but neither of them came through, particularly when the outcome mattered late in the game. Bryant's missed three-pointer that could've taken Game 1 of the Lakers-Mavericks series could've spurred the Lakers to build off that game, but it just raised concerns on whether he had much left in the tank this season.

Handling adversity

The Blazers' 23-point comeback in Game 4 of the Portland-Dallas series led many to believe this was the beginning of another Mavericks playoff unraveling. Instead, it showed Dallas' quick ability to bounce back. The Mavericks recorded a league-tying six comeback efforts in the fourth quarter, including two against the Lakers and in Game 2 against Miami, where they overcame a 15-point deficit midway through the final period. 

Usually, the Lakers stay on an even keel during tough times. But when the Lakers trailed 2-0 to Dallas, it was obvious they didn't have the same resiliency they once had. Lakers center Andrew Bynum shared the team had "trust issues" and their on-court behavior showed it. Lakers forward Pau Gasol appeared overwhelmed in every facet of the game. The Lakers continuously pointed fingers on missed defensive assignments. And  Artest drew a one-game suspension for unnecessarily clotheslining Dallas guard J.J. Barea

61327621Size advantage

Normally, the Lakers enjoyed this advantage all too often with two seven-footers in Bynum and Gasol and versatile 6-10 swingman Lamar Odom. That's why when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban contended last offseason that Dallas has enough size and depth to beat the Lakers, I immediately scratched my head. Sure, the Mavericks acquired 7-1 Tyson Chandler, who was traded last off-season from Charlotte for Erick Dampier. Coach Rick Carlisle also expected Chandler's defense to appropriately complement 7-0 Brendan Haywood's offense. But to say that would be enough to counter the Lakers' size seemed to be a stretch.

But I stand corrected. Chandler finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting, nearly averaged a double-double (10.1 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game) and proved a large part in the Mavericks holding teams to 92.5 points per game in the playoffs. Haywood may have struggled handling a reduced role in the regular season, but he helped protect the paint during the postseason until a hip injury sidelined him for most of the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Gasol's 13.1 points on 42.9% shooting he averaged against the Mavericks proved the main factor in the Western Conference semifinals sweep. Bynum's career-best playoffs performance (14.4 points on 54.3% shooting, 9.6 rebounds and zero injuries) was offset with a dropoff in his defensive effort and his frustration with teammates and opponents named Barea. And Odom, who became a beacon of consistency in the regular season en route to the award for sixth man of the year, suddenly became unreliable in the postseason. 

61327615Bench

The Lakers thought they addressed these needs by signing veterans last off-season in Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff, as well as re-signing  Shannon Brown. But the bench outside of Odom provided very little. Because of how consistently efficient Barnes played before suffering a lateral meniscus tear in Jan. 7, I'm convinced a summer of rehab and conditioning will be enough for him to return to his form before the injury. But it still didn't help matters, what with  Brown's inconsistent shooting and Steve Blake's tentativeness.  

The Mavericks' bench told a different story. Jason Terry may have missed out on winning sixth man of the year, but he surely knew how to play in closeout games against the Lakers (32 points a and playoff record nine three-pointers on 10 attempts) and the Miami Heat (game-high 27 points). Barea proved fairly inconsistent in the playoffs, but he usually gave the teams, including the Lakers, fits on pick-and-rolls. And Peja Stojakovic's lack of athleticism may have led to a limited role in the Finals, but he spurred a comeback against the Lakers in Game 3 and poured in 21 points on seven of seven shooting in the sweep finale. 

 --Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, the NBA Finals MVP, reacts after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter against the Heat in Game 6 on Sunday evening in Miami. Credit: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Photo: Heat forward Chris Bosh tries to cut off a drive by Nowitzki during Game 5 on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Credit: Ron Jenkins / McClatchy-Tribune

Photo: Dallas center Tyson Chandler tries to block a shot by Lakers forward Lamar Odom in the first half of the Western Conference semifinals Game 1 at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Photo: Lakers guard Shannon Brown steals the ball from Mavericks guard Jason Terry in the first half of Game 1 at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Mr. Medina you missed one very, very important area: COACHING.

Simply put the Mavs outcoached the pants off the Lakers' staff. The Mavs were much better prepared, much better motivated and made terrific real-time adjustments during games and between games.

For a veteran team who already won multiple championships the Lakers looked downright disorganized, undisciplined and clueless on both sides of the ball: defense AND offense.

-----------------------------------------
-PsyCorp

PsyCorp,

yes the Lakers did get out-coached.

******Most objective and intelligent observers would say that we failed to take advantage of our superior height and length most of the season and for sure in the playoffs against the Nuggets and Mavs. Most objective and intelligent observers would say that the major reasons we failed to three-peat was due to the weight of all those extra games we played or Pau Gasol’s disappearance or Kobe Bryant’s not coming through in the clutch like previous years, like Dirk Nowitzki did for the Dallas Mavs.**********

_______________

Obviously I'm not a smart man nor objective or intelligent because what I saw these playoffs was a healthy Bynum not playing like a go-to man. He was outplayed by Tyson Chandler a man 50 pounds lighter. Bynum's weak repertoire of offensive moves and shots along with his inability to establish an advantageous low-post position defeated any purpose of an inside-out game. Though his FG% was a decent 53% it was mostly on chippies and in the playoffs you're not going to get 20 chippies a game.
Pau Gasol's disappearance was even more critical to the Lakers demise than Bynum's. 42% from the field, numerous fumbles, and mental mistakes cost the Lakers at least a game or two against Dallas that could have led to a more competitive series.
In the New Orleans series it was much the same. If it wasn't for Kobe's 2 game changing dunks in game 5 (?) who knows how that series would have turned out.
People talk about LBJ "checking out" in the Finals, but Kobe, who was definately limited by his ankle injury resisted (or realizied) that any attempt to take over a game would be futile so he continued feeding his teammates who repeatedly failed him. End of story.

Make the move for Howard, he has said he will become a free-agent and Bynum is a logical replacement for Orlando. Howard is so far ahead of Bynum it makes me laugh at those who try to say they are on the same level. Howard's athleticism is through the roof. Comparing the two, Bynum is a Neanderthal.

Gasol,in my humble opinion can, and should never be trusted again. Thanks for the memories Gasoft. If anyone should be traded, he should be the first, no ifs, ands, or buts. Hell, don't care if we get less in return, Monta Ellis for Gasol? DO IT YESTERDAY. When you can't be trusted you are a liability.

There are 4 lights

psy - Fair point. Carlisle coached really well and it was clear PJ wasn't able to reach his players as effectively as he had in other years. So clearly Carlisle outcoached Jackson, but I wouldn't pin this series too much on Jackson. He tried lots of tactics in motivating the players and getting them prepared. They were just unreachable

You missed "Heart".

You missed "Focus."

You missed "Eye of the Tiger."

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

What Jon K said. Word for word.

Poor Island Priest

Now you've stooped to the Lebron card saying your life is so much better than mine. Keep backing that Loser. lol

Personally, I don't see much difference between my "Wendy's" job and your "Der Wienerschnitzel" job besides the fact your envious of those dogs.

keep it coming Priestess

I agree with all the areas MM touched on...and like Psy pointed out the Lakers got outcoached also. So, Kudos to Dallas again on a great run.

I must vent on one troubling aspect of the Mavs winning. I'm tired of hearing people (Carlisle, Dirk, reporters,etc) say Dallas winning was a victory for team basketball. I heard the same foolishness when the Pistons won in 2004. Newsflash people...you do not win an NBA championship without playing team ball. As if the Lakers last two championships or the Shaq era 3peat were not victories for team basketball.

@MM - Phil's job is to reach him. He was unsuccessful like you said...thus he was a failure like the rest of the team. Thus, he gets his fair share of the blame just like he gets his share of the credit when he does "reach" them and the Lakers win.


@mclyne - nice selection by Red...hmmm... Jars and now Red...nice trend :-) Of course, U2 was a very appropriate selection also. Amen.

Mark Medina,


Just two incredibly uninformed statements............How did you get this job?

Are you an agent in the dumbing down of Laker fans?

1st Statement:

"psy - Fair point. Carlisle coached really well and it was clear PJ wasn't able to reach his players as effectively as he had in other years. So clearly Carlisle outcoached Jackson, but I wouldn't pin this series too much on Jackson. He tried lots of tactics in motivating the players and getting them prepared. They were just unreachable"

How did you come to the conclusion that the Laker players were "unreachable"? What an incredibly short-sighted conclusion and also extremely lazy critical thinking skills.

As a former teacher of students I lived by an old adage from the original Karate Kid by Mr. Myagi......................

"No such thing as bad student. Only bad teacher"

One of the best things that will happen in Phil Jackson's absence is less ridiculous statements like Mark's from this uninformed media. Mark let me make it clear...................EVERYBODY IS REACHABLE!! Whenever a student can't be reached it isn't the student that has failed.............it is the teacher. Every teacher who has accepted that yoke understands with it comes a tremendous responsibility and more importantly ...............ACCOUNTABILITY!

The culture that Phil Jackson created was one of no accountability among the coaching staff and none among the media.............they all took the easy way out............just blame Kobe, he's "uncoachable" or just blame the players for poor defensive pick n roll schemes and substitution patterns and lack of motivation.........the players are "unreachable"

Simply put it's the "blame game" culture............one in which Mike Brown in my opinion will do away with. If the students are NOT motivated to learn...............GET ANOTHER TEACHER!!

2nd Statement by Medina:

"The Lakers usually have that luxury in Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, but neither of them came through, particularly when the outcome mattered late in the game. Bryant's missed three-pointer that could've taken Game 1 of the Lakers-Mavericks series could've spurred the Lakers to build off that game, but it just raised concerns on whether he had much left in the tank this season."

Heavy sigh.....................Mark did you even watch the game? Did you notice that Phil Jackson took Kobe out of that game in the 3rd quarter with about 3 minutes to go and Kobe didn't re-enter the game until the 4th quarter was half over.............while Dallas went on a 17-4 run??

First of all please do not put Derek Fisher in the same sentence with Kobe or Dirk..............because Kobe was very clutch that game...............at the 3:33 mark of the 4th with the Lakers clinging to a 90-87 lead it was Kobe to hit the huge shot to stem the Mavericks run and put the Lakers up by 5...............with the Lakers up 92-91 it was Kobe that hit the short pull-up over Jason Kidd for a 3 point lead with a minute left..............was that clutch?

Kobe had that turn-over but I cut Kobe some slack considering he has bailed the Lakers out so many times I'm afraid to count...................but the next play when Phil Jackson decided to put Gasol on Dirk 25ft from the basket had to be the dumbest coaching move the entire playoffs.................as the clumsy Gasol fell into Dirk giving him 2 ft's...................Did you watch the game?

..............or do you have something personal against Kobe?

Almost forgot...............If Mike Brown isn't asking for a Kobe statement and he's cool with it and The Buss' aren't asking for a Kobe statement on the hire and neither is Mitch Kupchak............and they're cool with it

What is YOUR problem? Kobe should make a statement .......why? Because YOU want him to? Why should Kobe's timetable for speaking about this matter be dictated by this dumbed down media?

Kobe will make a statement when he deems it is time................not you. Talk about arrogance.............who the hell does this media think they are?


JonK - plus one on those comments for sure!

And again regarding Kobe and The Statement...sigh...Kobe is NOT the team spokesperson. He already talked to and texted the coach. He's more than likely kept in touch with all his teammates. He's under NO obligation to give the media a statement, and he's also under NO obligation to say something so the fans can relax. Jeeze you guys - chill out. Kobe will do whatever he needs to do to make the new situation work. He wants to win rings. He wants to succeed. He's climbing Bill Russell's ladder for god's sake - why would anyone think he'll say or do anything to mess with the team's chemistry? Get real. He'll talk when he's damn good and ready to talk. And NO it wasn't the time at his new foundation event. He kept the focus on the event, right? He'll keep the focus on the team when it's bball time.

Did I miss No.Money's "explanation?"

pfunk36

Sorry my fellow teacher, there are unteachable and unreachable students

Sister Mary Elephant

pfunk - Sshhhhh. Remember I'm still trying to get the first interview with Phil when his book comes out where he trashes Kobe

MM,

re: trashing Kobe. Get real. He's going to trash Bynum & Jim Buss.

Book Title: My last loss.

Ch. 3: excerpt.

Andrew Bynum. What can I say? I tried to get him to spend more time with
Kareem, but he didn't really want to. Cap was too focused on defense and
Bynum wanted to be an offensive super star.

I went to management. Jim told me, "Phil, Bynum will be here long after
you're gone."

You'd think that the opportunity for a 3-peat would motivate the guy. The
pull to party in South Africa was just too strong. I think he's seen "Roots"
7 times. I think his mother said he looked like Shaka Zulu.


Ch. 5

Pau Gasol was the most skilled cream puff I ever met. I'm still surprised that
Mitch pulled that off. I told him not to get cocky, but he felt that winning
a championship allowed him to slack off ....

Ch 7

Lamar was my masterpiece. All that talent, and he was as easily distracted as
a 3 yr old. I finally got him. I'm glad he's been vindicated w/ 6th man of the
year.

Ch. 12

Kobe Bryant was the fiercest competitor I've ever seen. More so than Michael.
I tried to warn him that playing through all of those injuries would cripple
him. He didn't care. He said, "Phil, we're not guaranteed tomorrow. Let's
win now. Whatever it takes, I'll do it."

I was watching when they drained his knee against OKC. There was enough
fluid to fill a water bottle.

If I ever have to go to battle, I want Kobe. It'd take an atomic bomb to stop
that guy.

Christmas present that I'll never buy for Kobe: Gloves.


Ch. 3: excerpt.

Andrew Bynum. What can I say? I tried to get him to spend more time with
Kareem, but he didn't really want to. Cap was too focused on defense and
Bynum wanted to be an offensive super star.

Aloha Hobbit,

I think you are way off base on this point. Actually you are not alone, several others have posted similar things.

Personally, I believe Kareem threw Andrew under the bus. Lets look at the time line.

December 08, Kareem is diagnosed with cancer. we begin to hear some rumblings that Andrew is not working out as much with him.

october 09. Andrew is asked why he is not working out with Kareem. He gives his reasons and Kareem expresses disappointment.

november 09. Kareem finally announces he has cancer. The Lakers give a presser stating that he will remain in the same capacity but his work load will be scaled way back while he recovers.

Seriously what was Andrew suppose to say? "Well I know Cap hasn't announced it yet but he has cancer, thats why we haven't been working out."

I think the least Kareem could have done after he finally went public was admit that he had been receiving therapy and that was why he wasn't working with Andrew.

Just my opinion.

MH

"...before you start crying over spilled centers, stuff a black knee brace in it..."

It's time for a blockbuster Laker trade
By Bill Plaschke

_______

It's the only reason why you trade Bynum (+) for Howard if he so chooses to play for the Lakers. Yes, it is definitely time!

One thing is certain about next year

Andrew Bynum will be playing his arse off because it's the last year of his guaranteed money (the Lakers have a team option for the following year).

He'll be playing for an extension for the max whatever the new CBA allows.

So look for him to give 100% as all athletes do in these cases. Just like he did the last time the Lakers gave him a contract extension.

But beware, those knees.

As Plasche says and he's right sometimes

Drew and Lavar for Howard and Riddick

Here's a realistic Bynum scenario for next year

Bynum plays with hustle and agressiveness.
Lakers like it, Orlando likes it. Laker brass might get caught up in this "playing like an all-star" period for him and not consider a trade for Howard. But the Lakers should not fall into this trap because

Bynum is injury prone, I repeat, Bynum will be injured and it's the smart move to trade him before the next injury occurs because if he gets injured again, No team will take a chance on him and he will have no trade value.

In the end I think the Lakers are in the catbirds seat. They make the trade for the best center (hello, the best) in the league to follow in the footsteps of Mikan, Wilt, Kareem, and Shaq or they wait for the inevitable injury and not re-sign Drew and save millions of dollars.

Bynum and Lavar for Howard and Reddick
a no brainer.

Michael H,

You offer a different take and in interesting disparity.

LakerTom feels that Kareem never said anything disparaging about Bynum.

You feel that Kareem through Bynum under the bus.


You're faith in Bynum's character is touching. I don't see any evidence to
support that he's that type of person. No, I don't mean that he's a bad person.
I mean that he has a consistent penchant towards enjoying himself. No,
I'm not saying that he shouldn't enjoy himself. I'm saying that he's chosen
odd, flamboyant & at times incredibly ill-timed ways to enjoy himself.

re: working out with Kareem. Dude. You have the opportunity to suck up
game from the most skilled center who ever played. You make yourself his
disciple and you suck up game until he kicks you out. Period. You do not
go traipsing about Europe like you have nothing better to do.

For 13 mil per year & the chance at immortality, you do whatever you can
to make yourself better.

1. Work with your tutor.
2. Train w/ team USA.
3. Get your surgeries done as fast as possible.
4. Train some more.

A possible 3-peat was squandered due to the complacency of the Lakers, as
a whole, and with two of our big men in particular.

1. Gasol's summer of relaxation was obviously flawed.
2. Bynum's delay of surgery for the world cup, was a bone-head maneuver.

Now that the "practice season" is over and the regular season has ended so
abrutly, y'all need to come clean and just fess up. Bynum was complacent.
We got waxed. His complacency was *part* of the problem. I wanted to
explicitly say "part", because some will read that I'm only blaming Bynum
and that's not true at all. However, because you chose to address Bynum's
spot in "The Book" ... I responded about Bynum.

What Bynum were you guys watching? The Bynum I saw was balling his heart out with him and LO running plays together in that last Mavs game. Phil goes and takes them both out and neither one wants to come out. Understandably given how they were playing. But since Phil was hellbent on Gasol coming back in (despite Pau's inefficiency throughout the series), he takes LO out, Gasol comes in, sucked hard and we all went home.

I don't know. On the one hand, I can see the whole knee issue, I do. But then on the flip side, Bynum in beast mode is nearly unstoppable. I don't buy that Tyson Chandler was owning Bynum due to the Mavs being able to collapse on 'Drew which was due to our horrid lack of outside shooting. Similarly, I didn't see Tyson Chandler go off on Bynum either.

Everyone hails D Howard as the savior at center. Dwight is gifted athletically, no doubt, but skill-wise, he's not a huge upgrade. I mean, he STILL has problems making/creating his own shot (which is why he complains so much about being fed). So really, the only reason everyone is pushing for a trade is because of the knees.

Mark Cuban wasn't afraid to keep spending to win a championship (re-signing Barea, bringing in Chandler, signing Peja). The Buss's turned uncharacteristically frugal and didn't resign Farmar, signed an over-the-hill Theo Ratliff, then didn't sign a replacement when Ratliff went down and Bynum still wasn't ready to play. They let go of SaVu and a first round pick to go cheaper with Joe Smith and then almost never used him. The glaring weaknesses in the team were evident to almost everyone (shooting, defense, consistency), yet the Lakers did almost nothing to address those issues, whereas Cuban kept addressing his team's needs all season long.

So really, the only reason everyone is pushing for a trade is because of the knees.

Posted by: alekesam
=======

That probably is the main reason but it's a darn good one.


@ALEKSAM ... You have to remember that certain bloggers refuse to acknowledge Drew’s value or contribution to the team because they fear that Drew might steal some of Kobe’s shots and glory. That’s why they create these fantasies that blame everything on Drew, who really was the only Lakers player who showed up for the playoffs. Give them a little more rope and Pau will come out a hero.
.................................
LAKERTOM

Zero percent Kobe's fault!

The Kobiashi played every game and finished third for MVP, first team All-NBA, and first team All-Defense!


This is 100% PJ's fault and 100% Mitch's fault!

Oh yeah even Buss's fault for putting up with these Losers this year!!!!

Why are we even trying to fool ourselves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I agree the Lakers lacked the depth of Dallas by getting rid of athletes and adding oldsters. Need to get younger defensively and offensively. The Bynum bashing is confusing. Some1 said he lacked offensive moves??? Coach tells him to play defense and Kobe sets his own pecking order so how does Bynum develop offensive game?


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