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.