Lakers/Mavericks: L.A.’s Big Size Knocks off Big D

Jeff Skibiski —  March 12, 2011

In a game that meant everything for making up ground in the West, the Lakers gave it everything they had, defeating Dallas 96-91. Led by one of Andrew Bynum’s best — and most timely — performances of the season, L.A. effectively controlled the tempo for most of the game’s 48 minutes. Bynum was a beast on both ends of the floor, scoring 22 points, including several aggressive moves in the painted area, while also reeling in 15 rebounds. We’ve been saying it for several games now, but he’s truly been a different player altogether since the All-Star break and one who dramatically increases the Lakers’ hopes for a third straight championship. As he said himself after the game, Andrew is heeding Coach Jackson’s longstanding order to focus on defense and rebounding. To that end, he grabbed rebounds with authority and provided an invaluable last line of defense against a deep Mavericks team. In the process, he dominated Tyson Chandler, a player who was brought onboard specifically to defend the likes of Bynum and Gasol.

Andrew was far from the only Laker responsible for tonight’s huge road victory; this was a true team effort from start to finish and especially so after Kobe sat out extended minutes after injuring his ankle. Steve Blake sprung to life at the most opportune time for L.A., showing the entire arsenal of skills that the Lakers were so attracted to when they signed him last summer. As Darius has written before, Blake’s ability to run the offense hasn’t really been his problem this season — in fact he’s done so quite adeptly for a first year guard in the triangle. Instead, he’s mostly struggled with finding his own niche on offense. Tonight, he finally put all the pieces together, scoring nine points and dishing out five dimes in 27 minutes.

This was the type of game where everyone who stepped foot on the floor contributed to the ultimate outcome. Ron Artest continued his improved play, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight boards, including a dagger offensive board and put-back with under a minute remaining. That a pivotal offensive rebound provided arguably the game’s most important moment was somewhat ironic considering the Mavs held an advantage on the glass all night long (48 to 43 rebounding edge). Whether it was Gasol hitting a clutch free throw, Lamar attacking the hoop or Barnes generally annoying the entire Dallas roster, all nine players stepped up big when they needed to most. They did it with energy on defense too, refusing to allow anyone other than Nowitzki and Marion to get going. Even Jason Terry, usually a Lakers killer, only managed 13 points.

Unlike the game against Miami, the Lakers also came up with all of the critical plays in the final minutes of the game, despite letting the Mavs back into it after riding a deceptively comfortable six to nine point lead for most of the fourth quarter. It’s not like the team really had much say in the matter either with Bryant — who scored 16 points on a subpar 6-20 from the field — relegated to the sidelines for part of the game’s key stretch. Barring a more serious injury, that’s not a situation that’s likely to happen often in the playoffs, but should still give the Lakers not named Kobe a great deal of confidence moving forward.

Ultimately, tonight’s win was about the Lakers setting a goal and delivering. They’re not quite in championship form just yet (see: missed free throws and rebound attempts), but this is a far cry from the team we saw from November to February. And if this game foreshadowed what we can expect in a likely second round series against the Mavericks, we’re in for a real doozy.

Jeff Skibiski

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41 responses to Lakers/Mavericks: L.A.’s Big Size Knocks off Big D

  1. >This was the type of game where everyone who stepped foot on the floor contributed to the ultimate outcome.

    Fish must have contributed some more of those rascally intangibles..

    21min 0-6 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1ast 0 0 0 3pf -2 0pts

  2. Kobe claimed this ankle sprain was the worst he ever had – he at first thought he might have broken it. After the game he stated he didn’t know if he would be able to go Monday night. I suspect he will play, but I don’t think he is prone to overstating any injury.

    It wouldn’t be the worst thing if he sits on Monday because it would get him one game closer to the end of the season with only 15 technicals. Now he has to completely shut up and that is not his habit. I think we are going to lose him for one game and, if so, I would prefer it be to rest his ankle rather than because the league forced him to.

  3. Lol @ 1….I damn near typed that myself before I saw you did. But that’s why we signed Blake….it’s more of a problem when they’re both off, but at least Blake was firing on all cylinders.

  4. thank god for this site. Thanks to everyone who told me Bynum played like a beast tonight. Recap on espn.com has 4 kobe highlights and 0 of anyone else. I hate espn sometimes.

  5. Fisher had a 3-0 Voskuhl. *

    *A Voskuhl usually is given to one of your teams bigs. A player earns a Voskuhl when his foul and turnover totals are greater than his point and rebound totals. (coined by Basketbawful)

    In this game, Fish’s stat line went like this:
    3 fouls + 0 turnovers > 0 points + 0 rebounds

    I suppose you can also have a special Voskuhl statistic and apply it to your guards, and just replace rebounds with assists. Maybe we could call it a Snow, giving Fish a 3-0 Snow because he also had zero assists. (coined by FB&G)

  6. (the ESPN box score gave Fish 1ast.)

  7. @2. I’m pretty sure that Kobe only had 13 techs before tonight’s game (two have been rescinded).

    @6. Oops! Then Fish had a 3-1 Snow.

  8. LOL, Voskuhl and Snow’s… Anyway, with Bynum giving us 20-15 every night, the guard play will not matter as much, I guess. I feel good that we can control and beat this Dallas team, we will meet them in the Playoffs for the first time since 1988, I believe it is.

  9. I just hope that the injury of Kobe is not that bad. When kobe said he thought he would be done for the season scared the hell out of me. Just hope kobe would rest his injury and set aside his warrior instinct on playing through pain. Anyways, 11 of the 15 remaining games of the lakers are at home with 5 of those games against teams playing on a back to back am pretty confident we can take the 2nd seed over Dallas with kobe healing for the playoffs.

  10. Healthy Kobe in June is more important than the 2nd seed. I sincerely doubt he will miss that much time, if any, but it probably wouldn’t be so bad. The Lakers played great in the short stretch that Kobe went to the locker room against Dallas, so we may see lots of very smooth, fluid basketball if Kobe actually does miss any time.

  11. Now imagine where we’d be if we won that stupid Miami game…

  12. I’m glad we have one of the best players to ever play in the NBA. Watching him play the last few games has been such a joy and a pleasure. And even though our SG hasnt been able to shoot we are still winning. I guess that’s why it’s great to have the greatest Center of all time on your team… He makes up for others shortcomings.

  13. @aaron: the greatest center of all time?? wow. haha.

  14. I remain convinced that Aaron is actually Smush Parker…

  15. Ray,
    Too soon? Haha. On a serious note I watched last nights ga,es on NBA tv this morning. If you think Joel and Stu gush over Bynum throughout the game…. You should have heard the Mavs announcers. Every second of the game they were complaining about how Bynum was controlling the game. When someone missed a shot it’s because they saw Bynum in the corner of hierarchy eye… When someone couldn’t get a rebound… Even when Kobe made a shot it was because Andrew willed it into the hoop.

  16. Everclear.. Or if they werent mentally on vacation during that cavs game

  17. I’d call it a Duhon myself, but that’s just personal preference.

  18. Why is getting the #2 seed so critical? The Lakers would beat the Mavs 4-2 in a series if all the games were played in Dallas.

    Seriously, Tyson Chandler and Brendon Haywood? That game was further proof that the OKC trade for Perkins was absolutely necessary.

  19. Agreed, I’d rather Kobe rest now than have this linger. I’d take the 3 seed with a healthy Kobe over a 2 seed with a gimpy one.

  20. I just watched the Kobe ankle turn, and boy was it cringe-worthy. I’ve had a LOT of sprained ankles in my day while playing ball, and I can say when you sprain your ankle without any external force (landing on someone or something, weird cut or def sequence), it can most always be attributed to fatigue. It’s a case of you not having full strength in your lower legs. He’s been playing basketball for his entire life, and he sprained his ankle (severely) while landing on his own two feet. Mamba seriously needs some rest. I would like to see him get a week or so off, depending on the injury’s severity. He needs to heal the aches and pains, and it would also give him a chance to step back and see how well the guys can do without him. He needs to be reminded that the “Rogue days are over-r-r”…of course, this is Kobe we’re talking about. Stubborn to a fault. As he said, “I’ll do what I normally do. Not sleep, get treatment around the clock”….smh, dude is clinically psychotic, but that’s why we love ‘em.

  21. 21, also because he kicked like a ballerina in mid-air. If he hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have hurt himself.

  22. To clinch HCA in the west, the Spurs’ magic number is 10. To clinch HCA throughout the playoffs, their magic number is 12.

    Lakers’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 5.

    Lakers’ magic number to clinch #3 seed is 13.

  23. @18. A Duhon would also be appropriate. I just remember Eric Snow as a PG who the Lakers would leave wide open even from 12 feet, daring him to shoot uncontested jumpers from inside the FT line. Simply an awful offensive player, who recently doubled as a horrible NBA TV analyst.

  24. @ 25

    Kobe is in the discussion for greatest Laker. I think it sticks in Magic’s craw a little bit. I also think Magic tries to motivate the old ball-team with little comments here and there, and might be trying to needle AND motivate Kobe.

    All pure sideline-psychoanalysis from me by the way–absolute garbage, I know…

  25. If we do see the Mavs in the playoffs, I wonder if Phil will use Barnes on Dirk.. pesky wing defenders give the German far more trouble than Gasol or LO could.

  26. @27. Dirk did more consistent damage against Drew than he did against Pau or Lamar. Dallas would run a pick and pop with their two bigs, and Drew would end up switched on Dirk. Drew had no problems guarding Bosh when he faced up, but Dirk is on another level entirely. He’s Kobe in a seven-footer’s body. I believe Dirk was 5-5 with Drew guarding him after a switch, meaning he was 5-14 from the field the rest of the time.

  27. http://www.nba.com/lakers/lockerroom/index.html

    Here’s a fun little tour of the Lakers facility. It’s interactive so you’ve got to click on doors and what not to navigate (I sat there waiting for it to start like an idiot). You’ll find some hilariously awkward bits from many of the Lakers.

  28. Dude,

    I think you’ve misread. I said Barnes, not Bynum. What’s that site where we can dig up stats on head-to-head matchups for players?

  29. Will there be a FB&G March Madness group?

  30. Igor brings up a good point. I forgot Barnes (along with S-Jax) was one of the Warriors wing defenders that gave Dirk a lot of trouble. With that said, I think Lamar does an excellent job in particular against Dirk, so I’m not sure if Phil has to resort to Barnes.

  31. I’m interested in doing a FB&G march madness group (even though I am terrible at it).

  32. @30. My point was that Lamar and Pau held Dirk to 5-14 FG. Dirk did most of his damage against Drew.

  33. #31, 33. Who else is in for a FB&G tourney bracket?

  34. Darius, sure count me in also.

  35. lets do it darius! idk anything about ncaab, but i am bored.

  36. I wish that Kobe would sometimes pay more attention to the game in the fourth quarter and watch what the flow of the game dictates. The team handled his absense pretty well. They ran the offense and were able to keep the lead. The lead did not shrink until he came back in. He tends to go into the ISO mode and everyone just watches him. This would have been a great time to see what Blake had in him. He began hot but cooled off, but still if the lead went down to four then insert Kobe. The Lakers went on two very long scoring droughts at the end of the game when Kobe came back. They went over two minutes without a basket twice. I’m sorry to say it wasn’t a coincidence.

  37. @ The Dude

    Eric Snow at least played defense. Plus he averaged over 5 dimes for his career. When Fish’s shot is off, he contributes nothing but leadership. Since Fish is who he is I would call it a Fisher. Fish had another Fisher tonight where he had no discernible contribution to the game except for huddle etiquette.

  38. Do not worry Abbott & ESPN,Kobe should be laid off never to touch basketball again,he is a detriment to team, a ball hog,Steve Blake is gonna make us champions:)

  39. @39. Fish has shot too well over his career to be included. This is a stat meant to represent offensive ineptitude, and to me, Snow is at the top. He had absolutely no driving ability, AND teams literally left him alone from 10-12 feet, daring him to make short jumpers.