From Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook (with video breakdown): Outside Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, there isn’t really anyone on the Dallas Mavericks who can create their own shot, and this is what makes defending Dirk Nowitzki so important, because if you can stop him, you have a good chance of stopping the Mavericks’ offense and beating them. Nowitzki is such an incredibly difficult cover because he is a seven footer who can shoot over you while fading away. This means that you have to put a big man on Dirk, who can play on the outside in addition to playing on the post. The Lakers tried to defend Nowitzki with two different players, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, and while one had some success, the other failed miserably when trying his hands at defending Dirk.
From Ben Golliver, Eye On Basketball: The Sticking Point: What will the Lakers do to better counter Dirk Nowitzki? The All-Star forward put up 28 points, while only shooting five free throws, but adding 14 rebounds. The performance was typical of his playoffs so far, as he continues to raise his game in the big moments and deliver when called upon. The Lakers will likely look to rough him up a bit more, but it’s tricky because he’s such an elite free throw shooter. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t with Nowitzki. But a little extra physicality from the likes of Ron Artest and Lamar Odom may be enough to make his life more difficult and his offense a little less efficient.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: The point isn’t blame Kobe for the loss — there’s more than enough responsibility to spread around, with Bryant well down the list — or rehash arguments about whether Kobe is a ballhog. He’s not, at least in the same way as that black hole you play with down at the rec. He correctly noted how many of his jumpers were shots that, for him, are “easy.” Relatively high percentage shots, like quick jumpers over a smaller Jason Terry, or popping off the elbow, then using his body and feet to create space against Corey Brewer, for example. Others — a couple isolations against Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd come to mind — were tougher, but Kobe forcing shots from time to time is, frankly, expected, built into the expectations of a Lakers game ahead of time. Watching the third and fourth quarters again this morning, it wasn’t a matter of Kobe grabbing a board, rushing up the floor, and chucking up a long jumper early in the clock. In a vacuum, many of his choices were perfectly fine (it was fun, actually, to watch him use the same footwork he walked through in warmups to create space and produce looks during the game). Put together, though, they were part of a larger transformation of the Lakers’ offense. Each of Kobe’s 17 shots in the second half were jumpers, from mid-to long range. Not one look at the rim, and he didn’t earn a single free throw. Given the disparity in shot totals, it’s no surprise the Lakers’ offense drifted heavily to the perimeter in the second half.
From Mark Medina, LA Times Lakers Blog: Stats don’t lie, but that doesn’t suddenly bolster why Bryant was warranted to finish in fourth place for regular-season MVP and it doesn’t invalidate preseason surveys that indicate the majority of general managers would prefer Bryant take the final shot. Citing his seven game-winners last season as a rebuttal clearly misses the point. The numbers indicate there’s a problem with how the Lakers run their offense in the final moments of a game, but it has nothing to do with Bryant’s clutch shooting. If it did, the Lakers wouldn’t heavily depend on it when they need to secure a close victory.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: A purple Rolls Royce was parked outside the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice facility on Tuesday and its license plate, using a shortened amount of characters to convey the Lakers 11 championships under owner Dr. Jerry Buss was far more optimistic than the Lakers current 1-0 deficit in the Western Conference semifinals. The luxury vehicle belonged to Buss, who stopped by practice to chat with several Lakers players the day after they dropped Game 1 to the Dallas Mavericks and offer words of encouragement.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: So a bunch of curious decisions, or at least, decisions that would be curious from anyone but Phil Jackson, can be pointed to as being primary reasons for the Lakers losing game 1. It’s not the first time this has happened, and it might not be the last. Still, blame is blame, so I’d like to take this moment to say to Phil Jackson what all of Lakers Nation should be saying. Kudos. Well done. Keep up the good work. No, I’m not joking. With just a few small changes, Phil Jackson could absolutely have maintained a victory for his team yesterday. Instead, he did what he’s always done and stuck to his guns, and because of it, his team lost. And he should be commended for this. Why? Because when it comes to the Lakers, and to PJ, there are no points awarded for progress. There are some troubling facts and trends regarding this Lakers squad, and the only way the final goal of a championship will be obtained is if some stuff gets sorted out. Here’s a bit of breaking news: The Lakers will probably fail to win a championship if their bench continues its terrible production. They will probably fail if the team can’t clean things up in the end game. They will probably fail if Pau Gasol can’t fix whatever it is that makes Pau Gasol play like this. And, while it’s hard to point out why the team might fail to win a championship if they need timeouts to stem opposing momentum, that’s been a staple of Phil Jackson’s since the beginning of his ridiculously successful coaching career.
From Andy Kamentzky, Land O’ Lakers: Later, Fisher was asked if he knew what was “going on” with the team. If the Lakers “know who [they] are.” If they’re “the team that they want to be.” The increasingly awkward exchange began to feel like a session on a psychiatrist’s couch, and with each passing second, Fisher’s “are you seriously asking me this question?” thought bubble grew more visible. (Kobe Bryant, who’d just taken a seat next to his teammate, struggled to avoid laughing.) Still, despite the visible disdain for the moment, the explanation contained weight: “You’re not a champion until you’re a champion. Everything in between that is what it is. You just deal with it until it comes. Until the final buzzer and the Larry O’Brien trophy is yours, you haven’t gotten to where you wanna be. In 2008, we kind of waltzed our way to the NBA Finals and then we didn’t win. The last couple of years, we’ve had more interesting, dynamic times getting to the Finals, and we figured out a way to win in the Finals. So we’ve just done what’s necessary to win.
From Jeff Miller, OC Register: The problem? They aren’t likely to reclaim momentum anytime soon. And that’s not our opinion. That’s Phil Jackson‘s. “I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” the coach said Tuesday. “It’s been my experience that that doesn’t always happen because teams are very good at this point in the playoffs. They can make adjustments. They leap-frog each other from game-to-game.”
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: “The decision at the end of the game where we couldn’t put a substitute in, I think was misplaced,” Jackson said after Tuesday’s practice. “That was something that changed the complexity of the last play. I’ve never had that happen to me in a ballgame before … In a dead-ball situation, someone can be substituted in or out. He doesn’t have to be in there for a play.” Jackson placed Bynum on Jason Kidd, the man inbounding the ball, and Jackson believes Bynum may have tipped Kidd’s pass which led to Pau Gasol trying to go for a steal and in the process fouling Dirk Nowitzki. After the foul, Nowitzki hit two go-ahead free throws with 19.5 seconds to go to give Dallas a lead it would never relinquish.
From Tim McMahon, ESPN Dallas: Carlisle is not going to mess with his starting lineup after winning three straight playoff games. Despite DeShawn Stevenson’s struggles in Game 1, he’ll be the guy guarding Kobe Bryant to begin Game 2. While it’s possible Brewer could replace Stevenson as the starting shooting guard next season, it’s tough for the midseason addition to crack a crowded rotation right now. His minutes would come at the expense of a proven veteran who has played a major role in at least one win this postseason, whether that’s Peja Stojakovic, Shawn Marion or Jason Terry. That’s why no promises have been made and Brewer will most likely continue to be “a nice changeup,” as Dirk Nowitzki referred to the former Minnesota lottery pick’s role.