Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening Game 3 playoff road contest at Dallas, the Lakers looking to climb out of a 2-0 hole, 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, Odom*, Gasol and Bynum
Mavericks: Kidd, Stevenson, Marion, Nowitzki and Chandler
*Odom started in place of the suspended Ron Artest
12:00 An incredible amount of energy was oozing around American Airlines Arena on this Friday night in May, with Dallas fans all wearing bright blue t-shirts, the music pumping at full volume, and a bunch of Texans thirsty for Purple and Gold blood. L.A., however, had responded so many times in such environments, and with Odom in the starting line up, L.A. opened up very strong on D, first rotating as its coaches wanted to twice run Dallas off the three-point line, then forcing a turnover on Dirk with similarly good rotation on the next trip.
5:48 The first six minutes answered the question about whether or not the Lakers would look like, well, the Lakers, as they played very well at both ends to open a 14-10 lead on Gasol’s tip in of Odom’s miss. Odom was an early matchup problem for Dallas, contributing something in each statistical category. However, Dallas got an immediate boost on the next trip when Bryant was whistled for his second PF as Dirk went up for a jumper.
0:39.9 A quarter full of runs concluded OK for L.A., who had endured a 9-2 Mavs run starting with Kobe’s foul on Dirk, preceding back-to-back open triples from the German. L.A.’s response was an 8-1 burst to go up 24-20 … but then came another Mavs run, this time 9-0, creating a five-point hole. The final bucket of the period came in and-1 fashion from Gasol, drawing Chandler’s second PF in the process. Bynum and Brendan Haywood also had two PF’s each. Alas, the Mavs hit four threes to counter a massive paint points advantage (18-2) for L.A., led by 10 from Bynum.
9:41 Against an odd LAL line up not yet used this season (Blake, Brown, Bryant, Joe Smith and Gasol), Dallas did its work with sixth man Jason Terry, who made his third field goal of the quarter (nine total points) to put the Mavs up 38-32, countering Blake’s three-pointer (he’d missed all five of his Game 2 attempts). In NBA history news, Bryant became the third greatest all-time playoff scorer with a jumper that pushed him past Shaquille O’Neal, only Kareem and Michael Jordan ahead of him.
6:16 Needing a boost from its bench in a big way, L.A. got that Blake three, then five straight points from Brown on a reverse slam and corner triple, though he missed a chance for seven straight by blowing an open layup, undecided whether to dunk or lay it up. As such, L.A. trailed 39-38.
0:00.9 A terrific end to the half erased a 6-point Mavs lead, as Bryant and Bynum captained an 11-2 run that produced a 51-47 lead at the break. Bynum was up to a team-high 14 points, Kobe had nine and Odom 10, while 1-of-2 free throws just before the halftime buzzer from Brown got him to six points off the pine. The Mavs out-rebounded L.A. 20-17, got a combined 12-of-18 FG’s for 30 points from Dirk and Terry, and made five threes to L.A.’s two yet trailed by four due to the 34-12 paint point edge.
8:16 After the Mavs cut it to two with a Marion leaner, L.A. responded with a Gasol driving layup around Dirk (the Lakers coaches have been asking for the Spaniard to attack the German) and then an open three from Fisher, opening a 58-51 lead. Both hoops were courtesy of Kobe passes, for hit third and fourth assists of the game.
6:51 In big games, each possession is so important, and the Lakers blew a chance to go up nine points when Fisher couldn’t convert a 2-on-1 transition opportunity. As often happens, Dallas responded immediately, getting back-to-back three-pointers (seven in the game) to quickly cut the lead to one.
0:41.8 So, we’ve talked about how it’s been a full game of momentum, right? After that Mavs push, L.A. responded by going inside to Gasol and Odom, then getting a tough Bryant baseline jumper after Marion’s travel to make it 70-64. The lead stayed at six after three thanks to an incredibly athletic play from Brown, who tipped in Kobe’s just-missed pull-up three with 1.9 seconds left.
The Lakers would have 12 minutes, and a six-point cushion, to make this a series.
11:00 Another wasted opportunity for L.A., as Bynum and Odom both missed open jumpers with the chance to push the lead to eight or ten, and Dallas countered with a Peja Stojakovic three to cut the Purple and Gold lead in half.
9:29 And back came the Lakers, getting an and-1 from Bynum (up to 21 points and nine boards to lead L.A. in both categories), plus a pretty driving layup from Brown, easily having his best playoff game with 10 points and three boards in 15 minutes. Dallas continued to miss, but L.A. couldn’t push its lead to double digits despite three chances as Barnes, Blake and Odom all missed jumpers. Would that wind up biting the Lakers?
3:43 Bryant drained consecutive jumpers over Kidd, but Dallas just kept draining 3-pointers, getting one from Dirk, then another from Peja (11 for the team). Bryant then turned the ball over, and fouled Kidd with the Mavs in the bonus. The six-point lead was down to one.
0:16.0 It went from bad to much worse for L.A., who after being up 87-81 suddenly found themselves down 97-91. The Mavs went up two points when the Lakers missed a rotation in the corner, leaving Terry wide open for a three, though Odom managed to tie the score at 91 with a tough hoop on the other end. But then came a driving layup from Dirk, a missed layup from Odom, and a failure to grab an offensive board with 39 seconds left after a Stojakovic miss. It appeared to be a foul on Chandler underneath, but instead, Fisher was whistled for a foul with just seven seconds left on the shot clock, 18.7 on the game clock.
The collective sting was visible on L.A.’s bench, as Terry made both free throws to create a four-point lead. It was just more free throws and missed Lakers shots from there, before the final score read 98-92, Mavericks. The Lakers had played hard and well, controlling the contest throughout, before the game and the Mavs ran away in the final three minutes. Few things sting as much as wasted opportunities in critical times, but it had suddenly happened twice to the Lakers.
The three-peat was truly in its 11th hour, and it all happened so fast, L.A. controlling both Games 1 and 3 before collapsing as they hadn’t done with their current make up of players whose recent playoff memories consist of hoisting two straight NBA titles.
0 Teams in NBA history that have come back from 3-0 deficits to win a playoff series, the task now laid out in front of the Lakers.
12 Three-pointers made by the Mavericks, to just three for the Lakers, a pattern from each game of the series.
15 More free throws attempted by the Mavs (29-14) despite L.A. outscoring Dallas in the paint 56-20, numbers that generally don’t add up in the box score.
18 Points in the paint in the first quarter alone for the Lakers, who dominated inside but couldn’t take early control of the game with Dallas making four first quarter triples.
32 Points for Dirk Nowitzki, including nine in the fourth quarter, to lead all scorers. Jason Terry added 23 off the Mavericks bench.
38.4 Shooting percentage for Pau Gasol, who made just 5-of-13 shots for 12 points. L.A.’s other 7-footer, Andrew Bynum, was terrific with 21 points and 10 boards on 9-of-16 field goals, while Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom both made 8-of-16 attempts to total 35 points.