From Arash Markazi, ESPNLA: As if things weren’t already looking bleak for the Los Angeles Lakers, there’s a good chance they will have to play Game 3 of their of Western Conference semifinals series against the Dallas Mavericks without forward Ron Artest. With 24.4 seconds left in the Mavericks’ 93-81 win over the Lakers on Tuesday, Artest reached out with his right hand and grabbed Mavericks guard Jose Juan Barea by the face and basically clotheslined him. Artest was immediately ejected after picking up his second technical foul. Artest was out of position and had to run through Lakers forward Lamar Odom to get to Barea, who took a minute to recover before hitting two free throws to seal the Mavericks’ win and give Dallas a stunning 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. After the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he expected Artest to miss Friday’s Game 3 in Dallas.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: The Lakers are back-to-back champions for two key reasons. One is Kobe Bryant. The other is that nobody has been able to stand up to their front line. There are 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, plus 6’10” Lamar Odom — all very long and very skilled. All very hard to stop. Dallas has. That is why Dallas won Game 2 93-81, and is up 2-0 series. The Mavericks have won both games on the Lakers home court. They have stood toe-to-toe to the Lakers strength and not given up an inch. These are not the soft-as-tissue-paper Mavericks, and they are in total control of this series now. For two games now Dallas has shut Gasol down, been more physical inside than Los Angeles, blocked shots and done what no team has consistently done for two seasons now. In Game 2 the Lakers were 13-of-23 at the rim (shots basically inside the restricted area) and 5-of-13 from there out to 9 feet.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Let’s get something out of the way right up front: this series isn’t over. The Los Angeles Lakers are, I assure you, capable of playing stupendous basketball. They haven’t suddenly become untalented. They still have Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson and three supremely skilled big men. They don’t panic. They know how to bounce back from difficult losses, and they know how to play on the road. If any team can recover from two nauseating home losses to start a playoff series, it’s this one. Friday’s a new day, and with it comes an opportunity to play like champions once again. That said, there’s no denying that the odds are stacked against them at this point. Tonight, as they did on Monday, the Dallas Mavericks made the Lakers look old, tired and confused. The Mavs’ 93 to 81 victory in Game Two at Staples Center couldn’t have been any more convincing.
From Daniel Buerge, Lakers Nation: I can’t remember a certain point in last night’s Game 2 where I knew the Lakers were going to lose. Usually there is a defining moment in a game where momentum shifts and one team goes on to victory while the other ends in defeat. As I watched last night’s game I realized that it felt like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone. Over the last two seasons the Lakers have won every must-win game they’ve played. In every playoff series it always seemed that they had the edge even when they were losing. The opponents always reacted to the Lakers moves rather than the other way around.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Always the favorites, unwaveringly confident for so long … the Lakers now will have to show they have some underdog fight. The two-time defending NBA champion Lakers lost again at home to the Dallas Mavericks, 93-81, to fall behind in the Western Conference semifinals, 2-0, on Wednesday night. In 18 previous situations after losing the opening two games of a seven-game series at home, only three NBA teams have rallied to win the series. The Lakers have lost the first two games — home or away — of seven-game series 18 times before and come back to win the series twice; only 14 teams in league history have come back from down, 2-0. The Lakers will have to win one game out of the next two coming up in Dallas just to give their retiring coach, Phil Jackson, another chance at Staples Center. Game 3 is Friday night, and Game 4 is Sunday afternoon.