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Category: Dallas Mavericks

Lakers 'trust issues' will make it too hard to overcome Dallas

Lakers14_510 One by one, the Lakers trudged to the entrance tunnel with their heads down, their teeth clenched and their ears perked.

Their heads remained down because the team's 93-81 Game 2 loss Wednesday to the Dallas Mavericks put them in a dicey reality. Only three times in NBA history has a team won a seven-game series after losing the first two home games and only 14 times out of 238 seven-game series in NBA history has a team overcome a 2-0 deficit, something Lakers Coach Phil Jackson conceded is a "challenge." Their teeth remained clenched because the Lakers' frustration pointed to numerous long-rooted problems, such as a lacking inside game, Kobe Bryant's high volume of shots, Ron Artest's inconsistency, the bench's horrific play, the team's horrible defense and poor free-throw shooting, providing them a big list to correct. And their ears perked because the boos from the 18,997 fans at Staples Center remained loud throughout the game.

The Lakers' public unraveling took place in what could be their last game of the season at Staples Center and certainly their last playoff series of the season. There's plenty of lasting images to sum up the Lakers' demise. Artest clotheslined Dallas guard Jose Barea with 25 seconds remaining in the game, an act condemned by Jackson, an act that will likely draw a suspension for Game 3 on Friday and an act that looked uglier than both Artest's shot selection (four of 10) and his pushing on Dirk Nowitzki. Lakers forward Pau Gasol looked equally horrified, upset and emotional after Nowitzki threw the dagger with three-point play on a fadeaway jumper and foul that put the Mavericks up 85-73 with 2:51 left, a sequence so ugly that most of the Lakers fans at Staples Center then headed for the exits. And then in the locker room, Lakers center Andrew Bynum argued that the team has "trust issues," a reason why the Lakers won't be able to overcome their current adversity.

"It's obvious we have trust issues," Bynum said after becoming the only Laker to shoot above 50% with 18 points on eight-of-11 shooting and arguing the problem has been season-wide. "We have to come out and discuss them or things won't change."

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Phil Jackson believes Ron Artest will be suspended for ejection in Lakers' 93-81 Game 2 loss to Dallas Mavericks

After watching a clip of Lakers forward Ron Artest clothesline Dallas guard Jose Barea in the closing seconds of the Lakers' 93-81 Game 2 loss Wednesday to the Mavericks, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson conceded there's a "good chance" Artest will be suspended for Game 3 on Friday.

"It's uncalled for," said Jackson, a rare admission considering he often argues on his players' behalf when certain ejections shouldn't result in a suspension. "It's a good chance he'll be suspended, but I hope not."

The league office, according to NBA rules, will consider the following factors in determining whether to classify a foul flagrant 1 or 2, reclassify the flagrant foul and impose a fine and/or suspension: "how hard the foul was; the outcome of the foul (e.g., whether it led to an altercation); and the level of the injury sustained by the player who was fouled."

Said Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle: "The league will handle it."

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

L.A. Times' Mark Medina on Lakers' 93-81 Game 2 loss to Dallas Mavericks

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Lakers vs. Mavericks, Game 2: Lakers fall to Mavericks, 93-81

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant looks up at the clock during the final seconds of the Lakers' 93-81 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 on Wednesday. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
This Lakers season has been filled with highs and lows and everyone thought the ultimate valley was losing to Cleveland before the all-star break.

But Wednesday night at Staples Center the Lakers hit a new low by losing to the Dallas Mavericks 93-81 to fall behind in the best-of-seven series, 0-2. Unlike Monday’s loss, it wasn’t even a good game. The Mavericks didn’t play that good of a game either.

Even the Staples Center crowd had seen enough as they started leaving with about three minutes to play.

Can the Lakers dig themselves out of this hole with the next two games in Dallas? If Wednesday was an indication, certainly not.

Let’s look at the shooting stats: Ron Artest (4 of 10), Pau Gasol (5 of 12), Derek Fisher (2 of 7), Lamar Odom (3 of 12) and Steve Blake (0 of 5). Andrew Bynum was bright spot making 8 of 11 (18 points) and grabbing 13 rebounds. Kobe Bryant finished with 23 points on 8 of 20 shooting.

Dirk Nowitzi was the leading scorer for the Mavericks with 24 points. Shawn Marion had 14 and reserve Jose Barea had 12.

If you are a Lakers fan, you are officially at Defcon Four.

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Lakers Chat: Lakers vs. Mavericks Game 2

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Lakers Coach Phil Jackson on Game 2 against Dallas

Listen to Phil Jackson's pre-game interview above and join the chat after the jump. A few highlights:

--Jackson said it's "probably unlikely" Ron Artest would match up with Dirk Nowitzki, but he said it with a smile. "Ron has a penchant for sending guys to their left, which is Dirk's strongest point. I know you guys don't watch the game that closely. But that's his strength, taking away the guy's right hand."

Join the chat after the jump!

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Five adjustments the Lakers need in Game 2 against Dallas

613284961. The Lakers need to stop playing with a situational attitude. They spent the entire first half of Game 1 testing the waters, but then opportunity struck. Dallas guard Jason Terry made a horrific foul on Lamar Odom near half-court with .7 seconds left in the second quarter, granting him three free throws. As if that wasn't enough, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki picked up a technical foul after elbowing Ron Artest during the last foul shot, granting the Lakers a total of four foul shots in the last .7 seconds of the first half. For those counting, that equaled the Mavericks' trip to the stripe in the entire second quarter.

If momentum, a loss of composure and a Lakers' 53-44 halftime lead didn't suggest the Mavericks would unravel much like the way they blew a 23-point lead in Game 4 in their first-round series against Portland, surely Dallas sensed that coming when the Lakers went on a 7-0 run to start the third quarter. The Lakers enjoyed a 60-44 lead with 10:37 left in the third quarter with clear skies awaiting them, but instead of continuing to keep the intensity, the Lakers simply let up. 

The Mavericks went on an 11-2 run, the Lakers shot six of 16 from the field following the timeout and they committed three turnovers. Analyze all you want in the factors below, such as the Lakers' inability to stop Dirk Nowitzki, the Lakers' bench coughing up a lead in the fourth quarter, the lacking inside production and the team's horrific play in the final minutes. But had the Lakers still maintained the same intensity, they would've walked away with a Game 1 victory. Of course, offsetting some of the other problems would've likely given the Lakers a win, but the team's situational attitude is more of a deeply rooted cause that contributed to the Lakers unnecessarily going six games against the Hornets and lacking any reliable consistency throughout the season.

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Looking at why Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom struggled guarding Dirk Nowitzki

If it were up to Lakers forward Ron Artest, he'd be the one guarding Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki in Game 2. It's the kind of matchup Artest revels in, knowing that how he performs against a particular player could prove instrumental in the game's outcome.

"Dirk can play," Artest said. "But I'm definitely a better defender than guys on other teams that guard him. I would say I'm a better defender. I'm not going to say that he can't score, that I can hold him to zero points. ... I mean, he hits jumpers over 7-footers anyway. But there's other things I could do to make that work in my advantage."

The Lakers could surely use the help, considering their strategy in mixing in Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom didn't exactly work out in the team's 96-94 Game 1 loss Monday to the Mavericks. Nowitzki scored 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while the Mavericks shot 56.8% in the second half. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wouldn't reveal his contingency plans, but he at least acknowledged that Artest guarding Nowitzki for at least some of the time remains a possibility. That's progress, considering Jackson's fear heading into Game 1 "that if you overcompensate for Dirk, you're going to end up allowing other people to get involved that can also spark this team."

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Caught in the Web: Lakers prepare for Game 2 against Dallas

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant doesn't seem too worried that the Lakers are off to a bad start in their Western Conference semifinal series against Dallas. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images / May 2, 2011 --The Times' Mike Bresnahan highlights Jerry Buss' visit to Lakers practice.

--The Times' Mark Heisler wonders if the Lakers are really in OK shape.

--The Times' Broderick Turner looks at the Game 2 adjustments the Lakers need to make.

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande looks at the rivalry between Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.

--Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick argues the Mavericks are a tougher team.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore believes the Lakers' game of chicken will eventually cost them.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr highlights the Lakers' optimism.

--ESPN Dallas' Jeff Caplan details how the Mavericks' mental toughness has improved.

--The Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw argues the Mavericks can upset the Lakers.

--Ball Don't Lie's Dan Devine provides a funny photo of Nowitzki.

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Lakers trying to restore order without losing composure

As if to provide reassuring signs that all is right in Lakerland, a subtle reminder he's monitoring his $91 million payroll or perhaps a mix of both, Lakers owner Jerry Buss took a quick stroll into practice Tuesday at the team's facility in El Segundo.

"It's normal," Lakers forward Ron Artest said of Buss' visit, which was mainly to speak with his daughter Jeanie Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president. "It's not like he never comes. He's come in training camp and a couple times of the season and sometimes to eat lunch. He doesn't have to be here to show support."

As if to remind the Lakers their 96-94 Game 1 loss Monday to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals could've been nullified had they converted on a few single plays, Coach Phil Jackson instructed his reserves to be more patient passing the ball inside and highlighted Kobe Bryant's turnover on the second-to-last possession as evidence the result could've swung the other way.

"Everybody forgets about the game and [remembers], the Lakers held off Dallas in the second half," Jackson recalled saying. A single play or two like that can create it. But what we don't want to do is get mired back in that definition. We want to get back into what we do right as a basketball club.

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Lakers send tape regarding officials' substitution ruling in Game 1 loss to Dallas

Usually he carries his gripes about officiating to the media, but this time Lakers Coach Phil Jackson addressed those matters by sending tape to the league office.

Jackson expressed frustration after Tuesday's practice about not being able to make a substitution change in the Lakers' 96-94 Game 1 loss Monday to Dallas with 20.3 seconds remaining. With the Lakers leading, 94-93, and Dallas having called timeout, Jackson subbed in Andrew Bynum for Lamar Odom, but immediately wanted to send in Steve Blake for Odom instead after seeing the Mavericks were going with a lineup that featured a smaller unit, with Peja Stojakovic replacing Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea subbing in for Shawn Marion. The officiating crew, according to Jackson, said he wasn't allowed to make the change.

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