Los Angeles Lakers 131, Dallas Mavericks 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 4, 2010 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
Dallas95.0101.140.631.130.910.5
Los Angeles137.972.019.520.712.6

Life, death and rebirth are inevitable.”
-Rig Veda

So yeah. That happened.

Last night’s contest was an oh so pleasant reminder that the NBA will break you. There are simply too many games, too many hungry opponents, and too many talented players out there for a team to go through the season without being thoroughly humbled. Luckily for the Mavs, they have 82 (82+, if you count preseason) tries to get this thing right before the playoffs begin, and they’ll likely need every one of the remaining contests to tune up.

I think it’s safe to say that losing by 35 points to the Lakers is an aberration. Los Angeles is undoubtedly the class of the West and one of the best squads in the league, but to be so completely and utterly embarrassed requires a very special level of futility. So special a level that we haven’t seen anything close from the Mavs all season, and hopefully won’t again. This game was absolutely a statement for the Lakers, but the Mavs have the benefit of moving on, trying to forget, and preparing for next week’s rematch.

The Mavs just weren’t ready for the Lakers, physically or mentally. They failed to play their game, L.A.’s game, or anything resembling any type of game. And as such, they allowed the Lakers to post 137.9 points/100 possessions, which is beyond gaudy. The Lakers’ effective field goal percentage was a blistering 72%. Dallas’ offensive impotence in the first quarter gave the game an air of desperation from the very beginning, and every defensive gamble (I’ve never seen the Mavs make so many attempts at steals in the backcourt) and quick three-point attempt only added fuel to L.A.’s fire. They didn’t need Ron Artest (despite the remarkable season he’s had thus far), and they didn’t even need Pau Gasol (ditto), really. Andrew Bynum (19 points, 8-8 FG, four assists) went to work on the low block against the undersized Mavs (get well soon, Damp), Kobe Bryant (15 points, eight assists, four turnovers) and Lamar Odom (15 points, 15 rebounds, six assists) facilitated the offense to perfection, and the full cast and crew of Lakers’ role players took turns pummeling the nonexistent Maverick defense. Jordan Farmar (24 points, 6-8 3FG) had a marvelous game, and laughed in the face of the Mavs’ zone defense.

But what choice did Dallas have? With Bynum in full effect on the block, the Mavs had to adjust, and with Erick Dampier out of the lineup, they had few options. So the Lakers dumped it inside, and Bynum went to work. When the Mavs came with help, he kicked it out. It was sequence after sequence of brutal simplicity. The Mavs have the talent to theoretically hang with almost any team in the league, but without Erick Dampier in the middle, they looked absolutely hopeless. L.A. outsized and outclassed the Dallas last night, and there is absolutely no getting around that.

One can only hope that the next time these teams meet (which is the 13th, by the way), the Mavs perform at a respectable level. Hopefully the Lakers won’t be allowed to waltz down the lane for uncontested dunks and layups. Hopefully the Mavs will be able to make a damn jumpshot to save their lives, or at least execute some semblance of an offensive game plan. Hopefully the Mavs can show a little heart and a little pride, and prove that they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Lakers. Hopefully all of these things will happen because we know that the Mavs are capable of them. Dallas is better than this. The defense is better than this. And hopefully nine days from now, they can prove it.

It’s still January, and though the Mavs’ point differential may be wrecked beyond repair, there’s no reason to panic over a game that is clearly an outlier in terms of effort and performance. Kudos to L.A. for the whoopin’, but the Mavs were a no-show.

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  • http://twitter.com/PitchBlackMind Brian D

    Yuck, that was awful. At least we know what the Mavs’ basement is now. I had to get in the car and just drive around because that game disgusted me so much. And then I got pulled over. I’m blaming the Mavs for that too. Hopefully we’ll repay this loss on the 13th.

    On a more positive note….We’ve gotta be approaching the 1 year anniversary of The Two Man Game, right? Drinks on Rob!

    • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

      It is indeed. January 21st was the launch. You bring the candles and funny hats, I’ll get a cake.

  • Andrew

    Can we say it now? Can it be said?

    Since the Mavs couldn’t get Gortat–not their fault, of course–it severely limits the mileage they can get off Dampier’s contract. Because if they don’t also find a way too get center help back in the deal, there’ll be more nights that look a little bit too much like this.

    I hate to say it because the hopes for what that contract can get the Mavs are both plausible and high, but….you might almost be better off just re-signing the dude for something much more reasonable…

    • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

      @Andrew: The Mavs’ best course of action at this point is to hold on to Dampier until the offseason. I doubt the Mavs would make so serious a shake-up anyway considering how good this team has been, but regardless, both Damp and Gooden are indispensable. Fingers crossed that Donnie holds onto Damp until the off-season, flips him in a sign-and-trade, and then somehow re-signs Dampier after being cut. That would be ideal.