Mavs eliminate Lakers, sweep Jackson to retirement
By JAIME ARON
DALLAS (AP) So long, Phil.
So long, chances for another Lakers three-peat.
Hello, Western Conference finals for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
Jason Terry tied an NBA postseason record with nine 3-pointers and the Mavericks matched a league playoff mark with 20 3s on their way to a 122-86 victory over the Lakers on Sunday and a sweep of their second-round series against the most successful coach in NBA history and the two-time defending champions.
Terry made five 3s in the second quarter, personally outscoring Los Angeles 20-16 in the period and helping Dallas lead by 24 at halftime. When Terry made 3s on consecutive possessions early in the third quarter, he drained whatever comeback hopes the Lakers had left.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lakers were so devastated that Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum resorted to throwing cheap shots. They were ejected 45 seconds apart, with Jackson sitting on the bench looking as if he'd already checked out. Kobe Bryant soon joined him on the sideline, with deep reserves playing out the final minutes of what turned out to be the second-widest margin of defeat in Lakers playoff history and in Jackson's storied playoff career.
Jackson left the court with a tight smile, accepting hugs and handshakes from Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, Jason Kidd and Mark Cuban. It was the first time he'd been swept in his 21 postseasons on the sideline. It hadn't happened to Bryant and the Lakers since 1999, the year before the Zen Master arrived in Los Angeles. This is the fourth time any NBA champion defending multiple titles has been swept, according to STATS LLC. The last was the 1996 Houston Rockets.
For Nowitzki and the Mavs, clearing this hurdle sets them up for a chance to redeem themselves for flopping during the 2006 NBA finals and for flaming out in every postseason since.
Dallas will host either Oklahoma City or Memphis in the conference finals. The Grizzlies lead the Thunder 2-1 going into Game 4 on Monday night. The next round likely won't start before next Sunday, a layoff that could pay huge dividends for a roster filled with players in their 30s.
Then again, they might want to keep playing the way they're going.
Terry made 11 of 14 shots for 32 points, missing more inside the arc than outside. He fell a few points shy of his most in a playoff game only because the game was such a blowout. J.J. Barea set a career playoff-best with 22 points and Peja Stojakovic added 21 points. All three of those guys come off the bench.
Nowitzki scored 17 points - his fewest this postseason. Dallas was so good in this game it hardly needed its best player. He was still in during the fourth quarter and took the blindside blow that led to Odom's ejection.
Soon after, Barea took a Bynum elbow to the 'M' on his Mavericks jersey while up in the air after releasing the ball for a layup. Fans threw things toward the court and officials scrambled to keep the peace. Bynum took off his jersey and was escorted to the locker room by Ron Artest, of all people. Artest was suspended from Game 3 because of his shot on Barea in the closing seconds of Game 2.
The Lakers blew big, late leads in Games 1 and 3, and came in talking about cleaning up their fourth-quarter performance. They never got that far.
The second quarter proved to be one of the most spectacular in Mavericks history, thanks mostly to Terry.
He was 5 of 6 from behind the arc that period, and the team was 7 of 8 - despite Jackson's repeated demands that his players run at them to try forcing them to dribble up for 2-pointers instead of 3s. Jackson isn't big on using timeouts to slow a team's momentum, but he did so twice to little avail. The Mavericks had a run of 13-2 early in the quarter and 10-1 spurt at the end.
Nowitzki was practically a spectator, scoring just four of the Mavericks' 36 points in the second. Barea and Stojakovic took their starring turns, with Barea zigzagging through the paint and Stojakovic nailing a 3 from the corner and a long one from straightaway at the end of a long possession.
Dallas was 11 of 14 on 3-point tries in the first half, tying another NBA postseason record. While many of those shots were wide open, the space often came because of great passes off drives to the rim. The Mavericks had assists on 20 of their 25 first-half baskets.
Bryant tried to stop the bleeding during that second quarter, but couldn't. He made only 1 of 5 shots in the period and had two turnovers. His only basket came after shoving Barea away from him; the pesky little point guard got even on the other end of the floor, driving straight to the rim for a layup.
Bryant finished 7 of 18 for 17 points. Shannon Brown was Los Angeles' next-best scorer with 15. Pau Gasol's lost postseason continued, too; he had 10 points and eight rebounds.
While the 65-year-old Jackson would've preferred going out with a 12th title - bundled neatly in four three-peats - this exit does nothing to tarnish his legacy. A Hall of Famer since 2007, he leaves with a record 11 titles - and only 10 series losses. Take away Red Auerbach, who won nine championships, and Jackson won more titles than any two coaches combined.
Four of Jackson's five kids flew to Dallas because they didn't want to miss his finale. On Saturday, Jackson called that "a drag that I don't need," but by Sunday afternoon he was probably happy to have them around.
Mavericks fans were going bonkers all afternoon, thrilled by the mere chance of a sweep. Once it became obvious, they still celebrated wildly.
But when the game ended, confetti didn't fall, symbolic of the organization's bigger goal of reaching the finals and winning its first championship.
They're halfway there. They've also won a franchise-record six straight playoff games, a streak that began right after they blew a 23-point lead in Game 4 of their first-round series against Portland.
NOTES: Rex Chapman, Vince Carter and Ray Allen are the others who've made nine 3s in a playoff game. ... Dallas became the eighth team to make 11 3s in one half of a playoff game. Chicago did it to Indiana earlier this postseason. ... Jackson's career postseason record is sealed at 229-104, the most wins and the highest winning percentage (.688) in NBA playoff history. His .704 regular-season winning percentage is another best. ... Teams trailing 0-3 are now 0-99 in NBA playoff history. The Lakers are the 60th to get swept.
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