Lakers 94, Mavs 96: Game 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening Round 2 contest against the Dallas Mavericks, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Mavericks: J. Kidd, D. Stevenson, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, T. Chandler

9:29 With three full days between the end of Round 1 and this Game 1, Phil Jackson was a bit concerned his team would be out of rhythm offensively, particularly Kobe Bryant, who did not practice due to his sore left ankle/foot. Apparently Bryant wasn’t similarly concerned, as he drained 3-of-4 shots to start the game, including a three, to give L.A. a 9-4 lead. This was the focused group of Lakers we didn’t see in Game 1 of Round 1.

3:01 After this morning’s shootaround, I asked Phil Jackson how the Lakers have been so good defensively against the three-pointer, and related it to this Western Semifinal series: “It has to be consciousness,” he said. “(Dallas is) trying to keep you occupied on 1 side of the court to (free shooters).” In the regular season, LAL effectively ran the Mavs off 3′s in their two wins, and did not in their loss. As such, L.A.’s coaches were not happy to see Artest, Bryant and Fisher too far off Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd, who hit one triple each in a stretch of just 1:17.

0:00 It wasn’t a poor first quarter for L.A. outside of the short stretch of missed defensive assignments, but the team did struggle to find its collective shooting rhythm, going 9-of-23 (39.1%) to find themselves trailing 25-23 after one. Kobe has 10, and Gasol six with three boards and three assists.

8:40 We saw the good and the bad from Shannon Brown off L.A.’s bench, as he converted two athletic hoops driving to the rim, but then made two poor passes and got lost on defense. The blown assignment resulted in the fourth Dallas three, giving the Mavs their biggest lead at 32-27.

2:00 L.A. was starting to do some better things on offense, like Gasol finding Bynum for his second dunk and the Spaniard’s fifth assist, but was still conceding open looks on the weak side of the floor. Jason Terry’s fifth make in six attempts got him 13 points in 14 minutes, and Dallas a three-point lead. But then came consecutive bank shots from Odom and Fisher (plus the foul) to make it 44-42 L.A.

0:00.7 From that point on, it was literally all Lakers, who went on a 10-2 run even before Terry committed a silly foul on Odom as the Sixth Man of the Year attempted a buzzer-beating heave. Three free throws resulted, and to compound that problem, Dirk was hit with a tech for throwing an elbow at Artest. That all equaled a 53-44 lead at the break.

10:37 So, that 14-2 run to close the third was soon up to 21-2 after a 7-0 burst out of the halftime tunnel, capped by Bryant’s three-pointer. Dallas had four TO’s throughout the entire first half, but three straight to open the second…

5:19 … But that run seemed to relax the Lakers in a bad way, the Mavs coming out of a time out with renewed energy to roll off a 12-2 run that cut L.A.’s lead to just three at 64-61. Corey Brewer, who played only five minutes against Portland in Round 1, had ignited the Mavs, even hitting a corner three to cap the spurt. All L.A.’s good work around halftime was essentially erased.

0:00 Back came Bryant and Gasol, the former scoring 15 of his 30 points in the period, and the latter reaching 15 points with eight boards and six assists by hitting four free throws in the final minute, putting L.A. up 78-71 going into the fourth quarter. It was a solid quarter for the Mavs, however, who outscored the Lakers 27-18 after the 7-0 spurt out of halftime.

7:35 A tough running finish in the paint from J.J. Barea got the Mavs within one, their second unit having outplayed that of L.A. to open the fourth on a 12-6 run. Odom managed a driving reverse as a response with 6:38 to go, meaning Bryant would likely enter out of a time out to try and take L.A., up 86-83, to the finish line. Yet the Lakers, aware of how great Nowitzki is down the stretch, had made things more difficult than may have been were they not to have let down early in the third.

2:12 Things stayed tight over the next few minutes, Kobe (34 points) and Dirk (24) exchanging tough jumpers in a 92-89 LAL lead. The Mavs had done their best to pack the paint, containing L.A.’s bigs as Bynum (actually on the bench with Odom in) and Gasol were getting few chances down the stretch.

0:20.3 OK,
forgive the play-by-play: Really tough exchanged jumpers from Bryant and Nowitzki found LAL with the ball and a 1-point lead with 35 seconds left, but on the ensuing possession, Bryant turned the ball over after solid defense from Kidd forced Bryant’s kick-out pass, which Terry intercepted. Dallas ball, and a chance to take the lead.

0:03.1 On the ensuing inbounds pass, Gasol tried to go for a steal, but instead fouled Dirk, who hit both free throws with no time going off the clock. Down one with the ball, Kobe was fouled by Kidd with eight seconds left, Dallas having one to give. Then came another turnover, Kobe getting his feet tangled and falling right into the ball, knocking it from Gasol’s hands, with Kidd not called for some contact on Bryant from behind.

Gasol quickly fouled Kidd, who made 1-of-2 free throws with 3.1 seconds left, L.A. calling time out to advance the ball to midcourt. Kobe ran around a screen and got a great look at a potential game-winning three, but he missed it just long, Dallas thus stealing Game 1 from the Lakers and taking home-court advantage in the process. Just as they did in Round 1, L.A. would have to come from behind. Stay tuned for postgame numbers.