Around the World (Wide Web): Game 4 Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  May 9, 2011

From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Not much in the way of nuance, gray area or degrees. Plain and simple, this was an inexcusable performance by the two-time defending champions. An actual game breakdown strikes me as an exercise in pointlessness. The game was far too lopsided in Dallas’ favor. A critical mind isn’t needed to explain why the continuation of terrible accuracy from behind the arc (this time, 5-for-24) handcuffed the Lakers. Or the damage created by allowing Dallas enough uncontested looks to connect at a mind-boggling rate of 62.5 percent (20 3’s in all, nine of which belonged to Jason Terry in a record-tying playoff performance).

From Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: In game four against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks were able to tie a NBA playoff record by hitting 20 three point shots (20-32/62.5% shooting), using these threes to complete their sweep of the Lakers.  When looking at Dallas’ three point shots, the common thread is Dirk Nowitzki.  Nowitzki was on the court for 15 of the Mavericks 20 three point shots, and in my opinion, Nowitzki was responsible for 12 of the makes.  In addition to making the three or getting the assist, the attention that Nowitzki drew forced the defense into tough rotations, resulting in wide open looks behind the three point line:

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Today will be remembered as a low point in Lakers history. It’s not that they failed to win another championship this year. Three-peating is a brutally challenging feat, and the back-to-back titles the Lakers captured in 2009 and 2010 were an experience fans of most teams will never get to enjoy. It really has been an amazing run, and it had to end sometime. But it didn’t have to end like this: with a second-round sweep capped off by a 36-point hammering in the final game coached by Phil Jackson. We were worried about this possibility from the moment the Lakers lost Game Two. We’ve talked about how when the Lakers fall apart in the playoffs, they fall apart with a vengeance. Just as they did in Game Six in Boston three years ago, today they got down early, decided they just didn’t have the answers and let their opponents name the score.

From Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Phil Jackson lowered himself into the cushioned metal folding chair on the slightly raised stage at the front of the room. “OK,” he said with a slight exhale. OK, indeed. The hellish game was over, the crushing series was over, the underachieving season was over and, likely, the Hall of Fame coaching career was over. Assessment time. “It feels really good to be ending the season, to be honest with you,” Jackson said. Whoa. The greatest coaching winner in NBA postseason history showing no sadness at the Lakers being trounced by the Mavericks in a 4-0 sweep completed Sunday at American Airlines Center?

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: I grew up in Los Angeles idolizing Magic Johnson. My admiration for the man has grown since he left the game — what he has done as a businessman, and as a spokesman about HIV, has been as impressive as what he did on the court. He’s always seemed both flawed and genuine. He is a genuine hero of mine. So it pains me to say this — Magic Johnson is totally wrong. This is not the time to blow up the Lakers. Here is what he said after the game on ESPN (via the Los Angeles Times).

From Sam Amick, Sports Illustrated: At least the book on Phil Jackson’s final season finally has a title now: The Unflattering Farewell. One of the greatest coaches the NBA has ever seen deserved better than this, and that was the case long before his two-time defending champion Lakers made a mockery of the family name in their embarrassing, enigmatic and era-ending 122-86 loss to the Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday. Jackson — he of the 11 championships and once-in-a-lifetime partnerships with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and even Shaquille O’Neal — had gone in and out of 28 arenas this season without a formal goodbye from the counterparts he so routinely beat. Chicago was the only exception, of course, and those closest to Jackson were left wondering whether this was just an oversight or perhaps a product of the jealousy his personality and success so often seemed to create.

From Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated: Phil Jackson walked away on Sunday with an ironic smile on his face, seemingly placid and content, reminiscent of his comportment in 2004, when he hung it up for the first time, after his Lakers had collapsed like a cheap umbrella and lost the championship series in five games to the Detroit Pistons. If there’s one thing we know about Jackson, he can read … and in both instances he was able to decipher the handwriting on the wall. We have to assume that this exit is permanent (he swears it is), and so does the 65-year-old Jackson exit having fallen short of his fourth three-peat. Of course, using falling short in conjunction with Jackson’s career is just wrong, and not just because he stands 6-foot-8 and seemed taller than that when he was walking with two good hips and two good knees. Jackson won 70 percent of his regular-season games and 69 percent of his playoff games, and there is the small matter of his 11 championship rings. That makes him perforce the most successful coach in NBA history (no objective argument to the contrary is possible), and I would argue that he is also the best. (More on that later.)

From Ramneet Singh, Lakers Nation: The Lakers’ offense ran through Kobe Bryant in the opening minutes of the game, and it was obvious Kobe wanted to make sure the team got off to a strong start. The team played great defense in the early goings, but no other player besides Kobe was able to find a groove on offense. Pau Gasol continued his slump and Ron Artest could not connect on his long-distance shot attempts. Although the Lakers started off playing great defense, the Mavericks soon began hitting their shots. At the 4:51 mark of the first the Mavs held a 16-11 lead. Bryant was carrying the Lakers on one end of the court with his offensive prowess, but the team failed to contest the Mavericks’ three-point attempts. At the conclusion of the first period, the Lakers found themselves trailing by four points, 27-23.

From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: In an embarrassing display that will have Lakers coach Phil Jackson happily saying “good riddance” to both his team and the NBA in general, Los Angeles frittered away its chance at extending its second-round series with Dallas on Sunday. Terrible defense, middling effort, lazy offense and a thuggish finish all marked Jackson’s last game as an NBA coach. Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were both ejected after needless flagrant fouls, Dallas won 122-86, and even a deficit like that doesn’t really showcase how one-sided this game was. Ignoring years of evidence that points to the fact that the Lakers’ offense is always at its best when it encompasses ball movement and the usual hallmarks of the team’s triangle offense, Kobe Bryant came out gunning to start the contest. Bryant was hitting to start, but he finished with 17 points on 18 shots in the loss.

From Mark Travis, But The Game Is On: Sadly, Bryant, Jackson and the Lakers were unable to put a fitting end to their storybook run. But there is a silver lining: For the first time in a few years, I have the chance to truly enjoy the NBA playoffs. To watch basketball be played at it’s highest level, with it’s best players in decades going at it, with compelling storylines following every team around, without having a deep emotional attachment with any of the players left. For once, I won’t have to be nervous when a team is down 13 in the fourth quarter of game seven of the NBA Finals or be angry when somebody hits an NBA Finals record eight three-pointer or miss out on greatness. I have confidence that Bryant will have his crack at his sixth title sometime in the future, whether or not it he’s the leader of the team or not. But for now, I’m all about the uncertainty of these playoffs. Will the Grizzlies be able to hold on to their 2-1 lead over the Thunder and advance to the Western Conference Finals as an eighth seed? Will the Heat get started on fulfilling their promise of multiple NBA Championships? Will Dirk transcend into the greatest non-American born player to ever play in the NBA? Who knows. And that’s what makes the Lakers’ early exit a blessing in disguise.

From Broderick Turner, LA Times: In a quiet moment inside the Lakers coaches’ office, some 30 minutes after all the chaos on the American Airlines Center court had subsided, Coach Phil Jackson ambled in with his tote bag on his shoulder, wearing a look of finality. Jackson then said that even before the Dallas Mavericks trounced the Lakers on Sunday, even before his Lakers coaching career came to a close, he and Kobe Bryant sensed the hunt for a third consecutive NBA championship could be headed for a premature end.

From Jonathan Abrams, NY Times: Phil Jackson took the final stroll alone. His players rushed in front of him and into an off-season of scrutiny and uncertainty. His faithful assistants — Frank Hamblen, Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons — paced behind him. Away from the court and in the concrete maze in the depths of the American Airlines Center, Jackson cracked a smile, the calm in the storm, during his walk toward retirement Sunday. Once Jackson disappeared to address the Lakers, four of his grown children hugged one another amid bleary eyes outside the locker room. They wore hats with the Roman numeral XI — 11, or the number of championships Jackson won as a coach in his wide-reaching, far-touching career.

Phillip Barnett

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24 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Game 4 Reactions

  1. I will be happy when this week is over and not have to see another story about how PJ went out. Rarely does a succesful player or coach go out on top in sports. The storybook ending is so cliche and makes life seem so simple to master with all its twist and turns along the way. If every ending was perfect, there would be no villian, no underdog, or death. I hate to see Phil go out the way he did, but I know the success he’s had outweighs the bad. Jackson has a bank full of money, nothing but time on his hands, and is mentioned in the same breath as the greatest to ever pace the sideline( or in his case sitting on the sideline). I would change places with him in a heartbeat, just knowing that my legacy has been paved and only days of mixed drinks with umbrellas are on the horizon.

  2. Pete Sampras is about the only sporting figure (athlete or coach) that I can think of in recent decades who (1) could reasonably be considered in the argument of the greatest of all time, and (2) retired immediately following a championship.

  3. I hear a lot of people saying that we should keep Pau, that he was just “in a funk” and having off the court issues, but here is the problem with that: if he let something a minor as a breakup ruin his postseason play, what is to say it won’t happen again?

    Why should we trust that Pau would be able to hold his mental composure going forward? What if we keep him and someone in his family passes away before the playoffs next season? There cannot be a repeat of this horrible postseason.

    I understand how great of a player Gasol is, and what he has given us in the past, but if he is unable to separate his on the court play from his off the court issues, I think we really need to look into moving him.

    On another note, I would argue that the days of Kobe being the #1 option offensively are pretty much over. Kobe needs to realize that he is no longer the best player in the NBA and we are not going to win with Kobe isolation plays anymore.

  4. Sartorially speaking, Bynum should not have taken off his jersey unless he had pecs of steel. Those were not pecs of steel.

    Great job FB&G guys for running a great post. Will you guys be having an exit interview about what to work on during the offseason (elocution school, pun avoidance training, analogies 401, etc.?) We will have a lot to discuss until game 1 of next season, but I wanted to compliment you on a fine season. Bravo!

  5. People love bad news. This site is jumping again. I love it.

    * The Bynum foul was pathetic. If it wasn’t the last game of the season it would at least send a message. At that point in a close out game there wasn’t even one percent of anything resembling a positive effect for Bynum or the Lakers.

    * Kobe is no longer capable of carrying a team to a championship as the loan #1 option. The Lakers need Bynum to develope into that or trade for one. Bill Simmons who usually is very off was so very much on when he put this upset propper perspective. “The Lakers are being swept by a team where their 4th best player or maybe fifth best player in these playoffs would be the second best player ahead of Jason Terry on the opposing team.” That pretty much sums it up.

  6. The strong man can live without love. Gasol should remember Lakers paying him 17 mil a year, Lakers organization has nothing to do with his personal life.
    Kobe and Gasol did not play well, Lakers team missed 15,20 points more from both of them. Phil should let Gasol play only 10 min a game, the guy lost his mind, no way he can help this team to win. If Phil coached every min, every second in game 1 and 2, the result would be much better.

  7. The Lakers now need to make some serious changes… This of course consists of replacing Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and surrounding Derek Fisher with some real talent next season.

  8. Gasol played like a distracted man who didn’t trust his teammates anymore (Like Lebron last year). If this were a baseball team, even a football team then it wouldn’t be a big deal. But in basketball off the court issues like this can, and has destroyed basketball teams.

    If the rumors are true then (painfully) we have to ship Gasol out before it gets worse, especially since it’s not gonna get better.

  9. Seems like a lot of overreaction about that Bynum foul out there. It was absolutely a flagrant 2 and deserving of the ejection and likely suspension (3 games?) and fine ($100K?).

    Still: He had the right instinct in delivering a hard foul in that situation, but like every other Laker on every defensive possession was late in rotating and thus couldn’t reach him with his body.

    So yes, he crossed the line. But the other side of that line was “hard, legal foul” not “let him make a layup because who cares the game is over.”

  10. More than anything, I’m disappointed the team had to lose this way. I hate the Celtics from the Magic vs Bird days, but I have to admit the current Celtics have it all over the current Lakers in guts and pride. They struggle, they lose, but they don’t fall apart so spectacularly.

    Otoh, I’m wary of calls to blow the team up. Before the series, I kept hearing about the Lakers’ “length”. Now it’s everybody-except-Kobe-is-up-for-sale.

    Thanks to all you folks at FB&G for another fine season. We may be facing the long dark teatime of the lakers soul. Long live FB&G.

  11. I find it interesting that we expect pro athletes to be devoid of humanity. If a coworker just had their fiancee leave them, I think most of us would expect a drop in productivity.

    Some people lose themselves in work when things are bad (see: Kobe) others lose themselves in their heads (see: Pau).

    Pau had a bad postseason. He’s not Kobe. So sue him, neither are 99% of the other players in the league today.

    Further, we don’t have any real knowledge of whether or not it was the breakup that got into Pau’s head or if something happened in the locker room or what. We only have conjecture and gossip.

    Bottom Line: Something off the court affected Pau’s play on the court. You hope that doesn’t happen, but sometimes you bring home to work with you.

  12. I think the rest of the league has slowly but surely learned to cope with our “length.” Knowing that we play Pau/Bynum, they pick and rolled us to death. What good is our length 21 feet out? As Charles Barkley said, we only play 2 of the 3 in crunchtime anyways.

    We need to get back to basics and round out the rest of the roster. We need some footspeed, youth, and Kobe and company need to deal with the growing pain of youngsters and not dispense with them claiming that we don’t have time to develop them.

    I hope that Ebanks may find a way to contribute next year, hope that we can land a perimeter player who can create off the dribble and guard their shadow (and don’t say Shannon can do this). Kobe needs help on the perimeter. I feel sometimes he was relieved that we didn’t get another perimeter player who could threaten Kobe’s dominance with the ball. I think we are understanding that Kobe needs help on the perimeter with some dynamic players who are not merely replaceable point guard cogs in the triangle.

  13. I honestly think that the narrative of a threepeat and Kobe finally equalling Jordan in rings made this loss and exit unbearable. But at the end of the day, maybe an early exit will give our players the rest they needed after 4 seasons (and some off season international play for Kobe, Pau, and Odom) of deep playoff and championship runs. The only thing this has done is delay championship #17 to another season. Watch what happens when a well rested Lakers team starts the new season, it will be a more satisfying spectacle than the 2008/2009 season.

  14. Matt, very well said. Also, both New Orleans and the Mavs were very physical with Pau and we know that Pau tends to step down when you get physical with him. I think the Lakers problem was not Pau, but rather a lack of depth. Come on, the Lakers bench was a joke compared to the Mavs. No one could hit a three. That just creates more pressure on Pau and Kobe. Pau is a good player, but he is effective when he is scoring within the offense. It is hard for him to do that when there basically was no offense for the Lakers and so much iso and hardly any ball movement. If you just force feed Pau down low and expect him to take over, he wont, that is just not his game. I think we need to keep the core players and try to get a good point guard if possible and some better bench players. If we give up anyone, I rather it be Bynum than Pau.

  15. Good run Lakes. Thank you. Doesn’t have to be over yet though…I don’t think wholesale changes are necessary.

    #1. We need someone that can shoot the 3 with consistency and is always a threat. Artest, Fish, Blake, Barnes, Brown, even Kobe, just didn’t get it done despite open, good looks.

    #2. Upgrade the bench with an athletic back-up (at least) pg. (it’d be nice to get a starter here, but that might not be possible in light of all of the bad contracts we have). Transition game was non-existent in postseason. Dare I say it, Lakers missed Jordan Farmar and the push/energy he brought off the bench. Lack of transition game means our half-court offense has to function at optimum efficiency to beat good teams.

  16. Darkness washed over The Dude. Darker’n a black steer’s tookus on a moonless prairie night.

    So how are our guys doing? I went into a celebratory White Russian-induced coma after the SEALs killed OBL. Did we sweep the Mavs yet?

  17. I loved the 2007-2008 season. It started with so much negativity (see Kobe demanding trade) and uncertainty and we jumped out to quick start. Drew was playing some great ball and guys like Sasha, Jordan and Turiaf were showing great signs of improvement. After Drew went down many felt the season was lost, little did we know it was just starting. After already aquiring Trevor, we got Pau and rode that wave to the finals. Even though we lost, the MVP season Kobe put together and the young nucleus of talent, we knew that greatness was around the corner.

    2008-2009 started out as championship or bust. Tough way to go through a season, but there were plenty of points in the season to build momentum. The Christmas day game against the Celts, the great Sasha save to Trevor for the dunk, the mental and physical toughness from Pau and LO, this all gave us hope it’d be our year. The 6-0 roadie including wins at the Cavs and Celts really sent us into the playoffs with momentum. Even though we didn’t get the C’s, winning the title, with Kobe as the leading player felt like a certain amount of joy and vindication for all the years we were told Kobe couldn’t do it.

    2009-2010-like all great Laker teams, we wanted to show we could go back to back. Like the previous Laker dynasty we learned we could “turn the switch on” whenever we wanted to. This led to a disjointed season in which wins were plentiful, but many stretches of uneven play highlighted much of the season. The uncertainty was heightened by the addition of Ron, who was seen as a wildcard. His defense in round 1 of the playoffs, and subsequent buzzer beating shot in the Conference Finals set the tone for his validation as a important playoff piece. The finals were an epic one, with Ron and Pau picking Kobe up in Game 7 and Drew showing the grit of a champ by dragging one leg up and down the court.

  18. Look, I feel for Pau. It sucks have someone break up with you. But, even if Kobe’s wife did trash talk Pau to his fiancee (a rumor that I don’t believe), then Pau’s shouldn’t be dating some cheesy chick who’d take this kind of bait anyway. Doesn’t she have a mind of her own? Shouldn’t Pau have enough self esteem not to judge himself by the opinion of someone who is so maleable that she doesn’t take with a grain salt anything that is said behind her supposed love’s back. Pathetic!

  19. Stumbled on this little tidbit in Broderick Turner’s article in LA Times:

    “I was talking to Kobe [after the game] and we both agreed it was better to lose now than to get to the [NBA] Finals and lose,” Jackson said. “Going all the way and losing in the Finals, now that’s really tough.”

    Fits very well with this strange transformation of Kobe from this angry, mute, short-tempered killer we saw the last two seasons to the good-natured, layed back and overbearing fellow we got to see over and over again this postseason.

    Kobe’s belief in the team, or himself or both was different this year. His hunger was different… there was an opening to just give it your best shot, while he has always symbolized someone to whom ‘your best shot’ wasn’t enough. Kobe always went for the kill, and losing was never an option.

  20. kehntangibles May 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    ^^ @ 17 While I’m not going to waste many more braincells dissecting the 2010-11 campaign, I think there is something valuable we can take away from it.

    Winning a championship is hard, hard work and an epic struggle in every sense of the word. We found out that sometimes you go through the ups and downs of the season, but there’s no pot of gold at the end. Sometimes you do exactly what’s worked before, armed with the knowledge that it HAS worked before… and it doesn’t.

    There is such a fine line between success and failure in the NBA – last year, as with this year, anything short of a ring would have been a failure. We remember how close we came to losing game 7, but we only understand the concept of losing game 7 in an abstract sense, because it didn’t actually happen. We had no shortage of angst-ridden moments where we saw the title slipping away, but never had to see that nightmare play out before us at Staples Center because, in true Hollywood fashion, the good guys banded together in the end and treated us all to a happy ending.

    This time, we didn’t come together when it mattered most, we didn’t conquer the obstacles put in our path. There was no happy ending and there sure as hell wasn’t a gallant last stand. The NBA playoffs aren’t a Hollywood movie; they’re a grueling battle and winning a title once, let along two or five times is truly a feat and not something that just comes served up for you to take. It’s not the feather in the cap that we wanted for Phil or Kobe’s legacy, but it doesn’t diminish that some formidable legacy one bit.

  21. The knee jerk reaction of ” blowing up ” the roster is ridiculous. Magic was a great basketball player and a really good business man, but his GM skills seem more in line with his talk show skills. There is nothing wrong with the Laker roster that cannot be fixed with is whats right with the Lakers roster.

    The Mav,s went our Round 1 last year. Each year is a different, in reality losing in this manner serves the Lakers better than losing in 7. The 86 Lakers lost 4 straight to Houston and the 90 Lakers lost 4 straight to Phoenix ( albeit after wininng the openers ) They were in the Finals the very next year, winning it all in 1987. The sky is not falling

  22. I almost feel dirty just for even sorta getting involved with the Pau rumors, but…

    In all of this talk about why Pau’s play was so subpar in the playoffs I think we’re forgetting that for most of the first third to half of the season we were discussing why Pau was so nearly non-existent in a lot of the ‘big’ games against good teams. Pau was an allstar and had great numbers, but at least to me, he always seemed to be a bit ‘off’ this year. Certainly in comparison to his previous seasons with the Lakers. To be fair to Pau, though, I should point out that I and others felt the team as a whole was a bit ‘off’ this year.

    If there are any locker room issues I’m sure they’ll come out eventually. For me, I’m hoping there aren’t any because those could be a lot harder to fix than other things.

    Re: Phil. Is anyone really surprised that he seemed so calm after the game? Entirely Phil.

    What this team needs are to fill a few holes, mainly some quickness and athleticism on the wings. Plus some 3pt shooters that teams fear. With Kobe not drawing double teams and attention quite as much as before, and with the desire to get Drew going in the post we need to be able to space the floor with shooters more than ever. (what we hoped Sasha, Artest, Blake, etc were supposed to do).

    Also, don’t underestimate what the sting of a loss like this can do for a teams motivation and focus (which I think were as big a problem as anything this year). Hopefully the Lakers will come out determined and focused next year, much like they did after 2008.

    Now let’s get the CBA thing sorted out, it’s kinda hard to ‘fix’ the Lakers without knowing what the financial limitations the front office will be working under are.

  23. Dude, lol . . . Yeah, I guess basketball is not everything in life, right?