Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening home playoff contest against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers looking to avenge a last-minute Game 1 loss, 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
Mavs: Kidd, Stevenson, Marion, Nowitzki, Chandler
9:18 It was a pretty offensive start for the Lakers, who made their first four shots to take an early 10-6 lead. Bryant hit two jumpers, Gasol a face-up shot on Nowitzki and Artest the opening jumper around a curl (he was 1-for-8 in Game 1). But at the other end, Dallas got two 3′s from Stevenson, who scored not a single point in Game 1, to hang along.
5:23 Dallas made 9-of-20 threes in the series opener, a major factor in the contest, despite L.A. knowing the importance of closing out those opportunities … this made it more surprising that L.A. allowed 3-of-5 triples to start Game 2, though one did come in transition after Bryant gambled for a steal, and another off an offensive board. The pretty O had stopped for L.A…
0:00 Sure enough, it was an ice cold LAL team after the opening two minutes, just three field goals going down in the final 10-odd minutes, putting them at only 36 percent for the quarter. Dallas, meanwhile, got yet another triple — this time from Nowitzki after Odom for some reason helped off him — to open a 26-20 lead out of the quarter. It was just not a good quarter at either end for L.A., particularly from the big men who could not establish anything meaningful inside.
7:52 Before the game, Phil Jackson asked not for more intensity or focus, but rather for his team to just try and enjoy things. He sensed that they were too tense, and wanted them to loosen up. He was right, because they were pressing for the first several minutes, until Jackson had to call time out early in the second with Dallas taking an 8-point lead. Jackson then spent a good minute talking to Odom, who’d struggled at both ends, and immediately out of the time out Odom twice attacked the rim, cutting the Mavs’ lead in half. J.J. Barea burned Shannon Brown for back-to-back hoops at the other end, but out of another Phil time out, Gasol aggressively scored on Dirk and Kobe hit two straight shots to get L.A. within one.
4:33 The Lakers were beginning to look like the Lakers again, finally, rolling off a 10-0 run inspired by Kobe, who scored six straight points and stripped Kidd on the other end. So much of the team’s confidence comes from Bryant, the constant driving force, who had moments earlier collected L.A. into a huddle with some demonstrative words (at least we’d assume … his gestures were certainly demonstrative).
0:00 Despite missing all seven three-point attempts, playing pretty tight, and watching Nowitzki hit a few more difficult jumpers (though that is Dirk’s think), the Lakers trailed by only two at the half (51-49). Key were Bryant (14 points) and Bynum (14 points, six boards), and some strong work on the offensive glass (eight to three) led to eight second-chance points.
7:40 After two bad plays on offense (blocked at the rim, then way off on a jumper), Gasol made two good ones (sprinting ahead of everyone in transition before receiving a pass for a dunk and hitting a turnaround) to get L.A. within two. His erratic play (4-of-10 FG’s) was pretty shocking to a home crowd that had seem him play with such consistency since he arrived in Los Angeles.
3:31 Not much changed as Dallas zinged the ball around the perimeter, Gasol tiring from trying to chase Dirk around, and eventually relented as the German hit first a triple and then a pull-up to put Dallas up 64-60. Only Kobe’s consecutive jumpers was keeping L.A. around, as even the body language battle was being won by the Mavericks.
0:00 And still not a switch in the final few minutes, L.A. really playing as if the three-peat were all on the line in this moment. They couldn’t find the rim, with several players missing wide-open shots, until Bynum finally hit a turnaround in the lane to stop a Mavs’ run. He also smartly committed a foul-to-give with 2.8 seconds left to quell the final Dallas possession, the deficit thus at six (68-62) after three.
9:46 Instead of finding a spark from the bench, L.A. allowed Dallas to reach its biggest lead at 10 after conceding the seventh Mavs 3 (Terry) and two Barea free throws. L.A.’s bench was just 4-for-15, the weight of the three-peat continuing to infiltrate the building.
6:05 A transition layup from Fisher finally got the crowd to its feet, some energy in the building, and L.A. within six at the 7:08 mark. But Barea, again, got into the paint with a floater. The crowd still up, Kobe had an open look at a corner three … but missed, the 14th gone awry for L.A. from distance, and Barea again broke L.A.’s D down before finding Haywood for a dunk and a 10-point lead. Building dead, again.
2:51 The Mavericks lead grew to as many as 15 after a Kidd three and Barea layup, before Bynum’s jumper and two Kobe free throws got L.A. back within 11 … but Nowitzki answered with an and-1 jumper in the lane, likely the final dagger into L.A.’s heart. When it was all mercifully over for the Lakers, Dallas walked out of Los Angeles with a 2-0 lead behind a 93-81 victory, the Purple and Gold heading to Texas with their title reign very much on the line.