Thursday, May 5, 2011
Dirk, Dallas go up 2-0 on Lakers
That 2010 NBA Finals rematch is looking a lot less likely after two games. The Dallas Mavericks beat the L.A. Lakers 93-81 to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals series effectively putting the two-time defending champs on the ropes.
Tonight's unsung hero was reserve guard JJ Barea who did what he wanted on the court mostly against Lakers reserve Steve Blake. Kobe Bryant got help from center Andrew Bynum who poured in 18 points and grabbed 13 boards, but Pau Gasol remains a non-factor. Gasol scored 13 quiet points on 5-12 shooting and heard the boos from the Staples Center crowd as Dirk Nowitzki did what he wanted against him. Who knows how that will affect his fragile psyche going forward. Nowitzki was an equal opportunity assassin on this night as he torched LaMar Odom and Ron Artest with equal aplomb.
Barea scored as many points (12) as the entire Lakers bench. Derek Fisher was the only starter that did not score in double figures, but Blake and Matt Barnes went a combined 0-7 from the field with no free throw attempts in 30 combined minutes. That is not how you win games if you're the Lakers. Assistant coach Brian Shaw could have threw on his #20 throwback and went on the court tonight. Bryant dropped 23 points on a controlled 9-20 shooting. After being criticized for taking too many shots in Game 1, Bryant must be wondering what else does he have to do. Odom going 3-12 off the bench is not Sixth Man of the Year numbers.
Dallas has had the toughest road through the playoffs thus far vanquishing an equal opponent in Portland with relative ease in six games and stomping on the Lakers twice on their home floor. The Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks are playing the best ball in the playoffs and they have everyone's picks to meet in the Finals (Boston and L.A.) on the brink. If this keeps up there may be a rematch of the 2006 Finals (Miami beat Dallas 4-2) not the 2010 version.