Inside Report: No. 3 Mavericks (2-0) at No. 2 Lakers (0-2) — Game 2 recap
Inside Report: No. 3 Mavericks (2-0) at No. 2 Lakers (0-2) — Game 2 recap
Earl K. Sneed recaps Wednesday night's Game 2 between the Dallas Mavericks and two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, as the Mavs head back to Big D with a 2-0 series lead after snatching the second showdown in the Staples Center.
LOS ANGELES — Continuing a season-long mind state of remaining on an even keel, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle reminded his team that its come-from-behind 96-94 win over the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the second-round series was in the past when it was time to shift the focus for Wednesday night’s Game 2.
Well aware that the Lakers would take the court at the Staples Center looking for revenge, Carlisle expressed to his players the importance of staying in the moment and not getting too high after coming back from a 16-point deficit two nights earlier.
“Every game is an opportunity and you’ve got to approach it in a singular fashion. That’s going to be our mindset,” Carlisle said heading into the series’ second showdown.
But even the coach had to acknowledge that with a second victory on the Lakers’ home floor the Mavs would be in a prime position — up two games to none — before heading back to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.
If he wouldn’t say it before the game then his team gave the coach reason to say it afterwards, as the Mavericks outperformed the Lakers on the Hollywood stage once more in their own backyard and took a 2-0 lead in the series with a dominating 93-81 victory.
“If you would have told me before that we were going to win both games, it would have been hard to believe,” forward Dirk Nowitzki admitted after the win. ”But I think we earned it. We dodged a couple bullets in Game 1. They had a big lead and let us back in. Kobe had a great look at a game-winner that he usually makes nine out of 10. And today, I thought we just went for it. … It was definitely a big win. We talked about Game 1 and didn’t want to get too high on that win, but we definitely wanted to go for it tonight.”
An aggressive Lakers team came out looking to take an early edge after hitting on its first four shots of the game. But the Dallas defense would settle down, stifling the Lakers while swingman DeShawn Stevenson provided the early offense with two 3-pointers off the direction of point guard Jason Kidd.
Mavericks center Tyson Chandler’s alley-oop finish off a lob pass from sixth man Jason Terry then nearly brought the house down, before Nowitzki drained Dallas’ fourth 3-pointer of the quarter to lift his team to a 26-20 edge after one.
Behind backup center Brendan Haywood’s shot-swatting defense, the Mavericks continued to lead by a comfortable margin early in the second quarter. And after Lakers sixth man Lamar Odom inched his squad closer, reserve point guard J.J. Barea answered right back with a trio of plays — two driving scores sandwiching a drawn charge on guard Shannon Brown — that kept the home team at a safe distance. But Lakers guard Kobe Bryant’s scoring prowess would power a 12-2 Lakers run to go in front, with the two-time Finals MVP producing eight points during the spurt while matched up one-on-one with Kidd.
“We did a decent job early in the game taking their blow. We knew they were going to come out on fire. Kobe was playing well, they tried to establish [Andrew] Bynum and [Pau] Gasol, but we kept plugging,” Nowitzki said.
“We knew this would be a tougher game,” Chandler echoed. ”We felt like they were going to come out with a lot more energy, so we had to be prepared for that. … I knew Kobe would come out very aggressive so these are things we prepared for. After we got Game 1, we looked at it like we’ve got to try to get another one then.”
The Mavericks would indeed settle down after a technical foul on Ron Artest called following a hard foul on Chandler, while Nowitzki put the visiting team on his back to lead it to a 51-49 lead at the halftime intermission.
Battling the Lakers’ scoring duo of Bryant and big man Andrew Bynum, who each poured in 14 first-half points, Nowitzki shouldered the bulk of the Mavs’ scoring load with 15 points of his own.
“Dirk’s one of the hardest guys to guard in the history of basketball. It’s not just tonight, it’s every night. He’s a game-changer,” Carlisle said with high praise for his superstar.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks outshot the Lakers through two quarters, 50 percent to 47.7 percent, while connecting on 4-for-10 from 3-point range compared to 0-of-7 from deep for L.A.
A second thunderous jam by Chandler would get the Mavericks on the board to start the third quarter, while Stevenson’s banked-in 3 from the top of the key and two-handed block on Gasol inside provided plenty of assistance. And despite four turnovers in the first five minutes of the third — matching the number for the entire first half — the Mavericks’ spectacular ball movement and Nowitzki’s lights-out shooting joined forces with a dominating defense, holding Bryant and the Lakers to a 13-point period to keep L.A. on the downside of a 68-62 margin on the scoreboard heading into the final 12 minutes of play.
With a penetrating Barea it didn’t take long into the fourth for the Mavs to open up a 10-point advantage with Bryant resting and watching from the bench. And when Bryant did return to the floor with 8:15 remaining his team was down eight thanks in large part to Barea’s management of the game.
“I came out with a lot of energy that I knew we needed, and we were up. We did a great job defensively all game. I think a little spark by me worked out in the win,” Barea modestly said.
Even the Lakers’ go-to player couldn’t break up L.A.’s drought from the outside, while Barea’s feed inside to Haywood for a one-handed slam put the Mavericks up 79-69 with just 6:05 left on the clock. With Barea operating at the point next to Kidd in the backcourt the lead would continue to surge, reaching its peak at 15 before Nowitzki’s rain-making and-1 jumper with 2:51 remaining gave the Mavs an 87-73 edge after the subsequent free throw.
The Lakers’ luck from behind the arc finally changed with Bryant’s 3 a short time later to end a 0-for-15 stretch. But it would be too little, too late for the Lakers, as the Mavericks put the finishing touches on the win with a late-game defensive stand to conclude the night.
Nowitzki finished the night leading the way with seven rebounds to go with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 from the floor and 2-for-3 from 3-point land, while forward Shawn Marion pitched in 14 in the first unit. Barea registered 12 points off the bench, while Kidd added 10 points of his own.
The Mavs' bench also outscored the Lakers' reserves, 30-12.
“[Nowitzki's] our horse and we don’t have a pecking order of scorers. For us, we may need to have six or seven guys with five or more points to be on target with where we need to be,” Carlisle explained.
“DeShawn Stevenson started it off. Again, it’s been a theme throughout the playoffs, throughout the regular season,” Jason Terry added. “Somebody is gonna step up for us. We don’t know who it is, and someone is gonna be the unsung hero. Tonight it was DeShawn and J.J. Barea, what he did at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter, and our bigs. So, it was a collective effort. We’re a team and that’s evident.”
Meanwhile, Bryant led the Lakers with 23 points, while Bynum recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Gasol also went for double figures in both categories with 13 points and 10 boards, while Artest added 10 points.
The Mavs outshot the Lakers, 42 percent to 41 percent, while hitting 8-for-25 from 3-point range compared to L.A.’s 2-for-20 from deep, overcoming a 44-39 disadvantage in rebounding and 42-36 deficit in points in the paint.
“One of the most explosive teams, we gave up 33 points in the second half. That’s obviously the key. I don’t think we were particularly on fire, we shot only 42 percent. … We just couldn’t make a lot of shots. But defensively, we battled and tried to make it tough on Kobe and tried to keep a tight paint,” Nowitzki explained.
“I think we kept our composure. We were patient, but playing defense is what’s going to win games this time of the year. Right now that’s been our focal point. We feel we’re going to get good looks, it’s just a matter of make or miss,” Kidd added.
The Mavericks now return home with a 2-0 series lead looking to move to 3-0 in Dallas on Friday night with the possibility of sweeping the defending champs on Sunday afternoon. But following their coach’s lead the Mavs continue to take things one game at a time, despite the fact that no team in NBA history has come back from a 0-3 deficit.
“Right now the important thing for us is to get rest tonight, appeal to our fans that we have to have the American Airlines Center as loud as Portland was, ’cause that’s the loudest I’ve ever heard a building,” Carlisle said while both looking ahead and acknowledging how ruckus the Rose Garden was during the Mavs’ first-round series with the Trail Blazers.
He added: “We’re gonna need every gun blazing and throw the kitchen sink at these guys when they come into our place, because this is a great team, a championship team, and to knock them off you’ve gotta concentrate and focus every single second.”
Note: Game 3 of the Mavericks’ second-round series will take place at the American Airlines Center on Friday night, airing nationally on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. CT. Great seats are still available and tickets can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
Tickets for the first two home games of the second round of the 2011 Playoffs will are
Tickets for the first two home games of the Second Round of the 2011 Playoffs will are on sale now. Tickets are priced $19 and up for Round 2. Tickets will be available online at mavs.com, via phone (214-747-6287 or 1-800-4NBA-TIX), the American Airlines Center® North Box Office* and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Simon Mall in Garland and Shops at Willow Bend).
The first-round series between the two teams continues as follows:
Game 3 – Fri May 6 8:30 p.m. CT ESPN
Game 4 – Sun May 8 2:30 p.m. CT ABC
Game 5 * Tue May 10 TBD TNT
Game 6 * Thu May 12 TBD ESPN
Game 7 * Sun May 15 2:30 p.m. CT ABC
Calling all Mavs fans to be Rowdy, Proud, and Loud in MAVS ROYAL BLUE! We’ll see you at the games, decked out for the MAVS ROYAL BLUE OUT!
Show your Mavs pride in ROYAL BLUE! Be Rowdy, Proud, and Loud decked out in your MAVS ROYAL BLUE at this Friday’s game! IT’S A MAVS ROYAL BLUE OUT, this Friday!
ROYAL Blue is the color! Wear it tonight to show you are Rowdy, Loud, and Proud!