Mavericks 98 Lakers 92 — Game 3 Recap

Wow.  That was some great basketball by the Mavs down the stretch last night.  I definitely find it amusing that I got worked over betting on the team I love to hate.  Serves me right.

After 2 games, Phil Jackson finally made the adjustment of double-teaming Dirk in the post and on the elbows.  It didn’t take Rick Carlisle 2 games to make a counter-adjustment.  He adjusted immediately, which made my admiration for him grow by leaps and bounds.  I already liked Carlisle as a defensive genius and master of matchups, but if he sweeps the Lakers out in this series, he will enter my pantheon.

The adjustment he made was this:  he moved Dirk out to the three point line, and got him the ball with simple high picks.  From then on, it was POINT-DIRK. Beautiful, Don Nelson-inspired basketball.  The Lakers defense was strung out at the three point line, with the lumbering Andrew Bynum left in the middle guarding no one, and not fast enough to make the final necessary rotation.

Note to Joe Lacob:  You do not beat the Lakers with low post basketball.

As to Nowitzki, this game answered the question for me.  He has grown enormously as a player since We Believe.  But a large part of his growth is directly attributable to the genius of his coach.  Carlisle makes immediate adjustments, moving Dirk away from the defense, and coaching him in immediately swinging the ball out of the double teams.  Avery Johnson, like Phil Jackson, specializes in pounding round pegs into square holes.  He didn’t make the adjustments that are making Dirk a legitimate superstar.

Carlisle is exposing Big Chief Triangle badly as something I have always been convinced of: a terrible playoff coach, whose record is directly attibutable to the dominance of his rosters.

Look at this lineup the Mavs went with down the stretch: Kidd, Terry, Nowitzki, Stojakovich — with Chandler in the middle.  4 players over 30, 3 of whom were never good defenders to start with.  And yet Phil Jackson couldn’t find a way to exploit them.  He didn’t iso Odom against Peja until the 2:00 mark, and Odom is so unused to that situation he made a botch of it.  No pick and roll with Kobe and Gasol to expose Dirk.  The Lakers offense down the stretch was a complete botch. They didn’t even go to Bynum, which begs the question, why was he even in the game down the stretch?  Wouldn’t the Lakers have been far better served with a frontline of Gasol and Odom, getting Shannon Brown on the court? Making themselves much quicker and better able to rotate to the three point shooters? Getting their most dangerous (in this game) offensive rebounder on the floor?  Pulling Tyson Chandler away from the basket? Of course they would.

As Don Nelson would tell you.

I’m still of the opinion that the Lakers are not dead in this series.  If they manage to finally close out a fourth quarter and win game 4, and win game 5 at home, then they will get to a game 6 in Dallas for all the marbles with the weight of the world on the Mavericks’ shoulders.

But the Lakers fourth quarter collapses in games 1 and 3 are clearly not flukes. The Mavs have the blueprint to beat them, drawn up by one of the best coaches in the league.

The Lakers have the better roster. But the worse coach. Which will prevail?

26 Responses to Mavericks 98 Lakers 92 — Game 3 Recap

  1. Anyone else catch Magic Johnson say that Jerry Buss needs to “blow these Lakers up?” Wow. I think we can expect that Dwight Howard trade to the Lakers this summer.

    Good piece on Pau Gasol, who is taking a lot of heat for his lackluster play in LaLa land:

    Lakers down to +2. Hmmm…. The difference between this game and the last is that a lot of Mavs took confidence in that last game, coming through when Dirk was being doubled. On the other hand, Ron Artest is coming back, which may help guarding the three point shooters. I think the Lakers will play hard, don’t think there’s much danger of them quitting the way they did against the Celtics in the Finals two years ago. I think we’re in for one of those great playoff basketball games. And I think the Lakers will get some not so divine intervention…

    Getting points, if the Lakers go down in flames I think I have to go down with them.

  2. I feel like the Gasol issue is important — and the Lakers will probably get swept because Kobe is in “Get on the train or get out of the way” mode. It probably means he jacks up 30 to 35 shots, shoots 42 percent and the Lakers lose another close one. There’s no pressure on the Mavs, and honestly, that’s when they play their best. Coming into the series, they were the ‘dogs, and they haven’t had any pressure on them, freeing them to play like they do during the regular season. The main difference is that Dirk and Terry are able to hit in the clutch. It’s a solid team that has figured out what they want to do, and then do it. Props to Carlisle.

  3. A player many W’s fans would like to see – Rumor mill – Igoudala not so happy… Good player, horrible contract (unless you are Fegan or Iggy!). Is Rod Thorn looking to move him? The Sixers do need a Center who plays defense, and not a SF like Rudy Gay in return (because Turner needs minutes)…

  4. The Lakers get steamrolled twice in the process of getting swept. Ladies and Gents, with right hands on hearts, a moment of silence for your disheveled and sniveling LaLa Lakers.

  5. Well, it appears the Lakers quit even before I was finished typing “don’t think there’s much danger in them quitting.” I think this merits a new rule: Don’t bet on teams down 3-0. They’ve already gone fishing. (But could this mean you should bet on teams up 3-0? hmmm. Merits research.)

    I don’t buy that the Lakers lost because they’re old and slow. They are that, but are they really older and slower than Peja, Kidd, Dirk, Marion and Haywood? And didn’t Jackson have a potential lineup of Gasol, Odom, Kobe, Brown and Blake at his disposal? Nothing slow about that lineup.

    No, I think they Lakers lost because they got completely outcoached, and that exposed the already bad rifts in their lockerroom. The relationship between Kobe and his big men, Gasol and Bynum, is very poor, and for good reason. Kobe does not make his big men happy. You can ask Shaq about that.

    By the way, this is now the THIRD time that a Kobe led team has completely quit in the Finals — it also happened against the Pistons and the Celtics. Not to mention the times it happened earlier in the playoffs, like against the Suns. How should that affect his legacy?

    It’s also at least the second time that Phil Jackson has lost in the Finals with what I consider to be the better team. There is little doubt in my mind that if Carlisle were coaching the Lakers, and Big Chief Triangle coaching the Mavs, the outcome would have been reversed.

    It’s also the second time that the famous Zen Master has presided over a complete implosion of chemistry between his stars. How should this affect HIS legacy?

  6. felt-meister, how much does a coach’s success depend on his successful management of the team’s best player, and ability to limit the opponent’s ? with the championship team of ’75, c.ray convinced his ‘mates that barry was their ticket and they needed to put up with his abrasive ways to win. in Dal’s previous appearance in the finals, johnson could not find a way to counter d.wade. with bryant’s physical impairments diminishing him to perimeter shooter, no one from the rest of the squad possessed the right combination of personality and talent to compensate, and that might be what magic johnson implied about making over the team.

    the greater public looks at gross numbers with things like a coach’s legacy, and jackson grabbed 11 trophies in 20 seasons, defining him to most people as the best ever. he won’t have the long list of former players or assistants going on with contributions to the league, like auerbach or nelson or riley, however. if this elimination diminishes anyone’s legacy, it should be bryant’s.

  7. Feltbot: You were the best in dissecting the Dallas-LA series.

  8. Thanks, Frank. But then why does my wallet have a hole in it? :>

    Moto, one thing I didn’t really credit, which is obviously true in hindsight, is that Bryant truly was physically impaired in this series. As you point out. This fact underlines for me what I have believed for many years: that Jackson’s fourth quarter offense was completely reliant on the supernatural abilities of Jordan and Bryant to play one on five. With Kobe physically unable to beat the Dallas double teams, and Jackson unwilling to improvise, the Lakers were doomed to crunch time failure.

    I think you are also right about Jackson’s management of Kobe, in that Jackson never coached ACTUAL PLAYS set up for his superstars to create for their teammates. Like a simple pick and roll, that you could run 10 straight times. Every thing was supposed to flow from the triangle, and the superstars willingness to “take what the defense was giving” and make the “right basketball play.” It never, ever worked in crunch time. Jordan and Kobe simply broke the offense and took over.

    But I don’t agree with you that Pau Gasol in particular, but also Lamar Odom (who I watched as the go-to guy for the Clippers in his early years), don’t have the right character to finish plays in crunch time. I think Phil Jackson’s offense never put them in the right place. Which is in the high post, or in the pick and roll.

    Jackson got fined before the last game for stating that the refs were allowing Dallas to root Gasol out of the post. But that completely obfuscates the larger p0int, that Gasol — like Nowitzki and Lee — should NEVER be in the low post anyway.

    Pau Gasol single handedly carried Memphis into the playoffs for several years before he came to the Lakers. He dropped 30 and 10 regularly, while also setting up his teammates. He was their go-to guy in crunch time, and was great in that role, FACING UP, shooting jumpers, and using his mobility to get to the basket.

    It has never been written about, but a large part of Gasol’s disgruntlement and failure to produce in this series, as well as in the Lakers Finals loss to the Celtics, had to do with Jackson’s mismanagement of HIM. This may change, if Gasol gets moved to a different team and a better coach.

  9. true, felt maestro, gasol has the talent to assert himself and make plays in the crunch, but personality is a different matter. he wasn’t playing with the smirk in Mem. perhaps ‘t’would be too much to ask from any player who’d been second fiddle for several seasons to have the ego and cojones get in the coach’s face and demand, this is what we must do for me to make a difference. elite players don’t have qualms doing just that, but can’t recall any who’ve done it when they weren’t the team’s alpha star. [apparently lee did something along those lines with smart in the final month or so of the season, but probably not in the form of a heated confrontation]. jackson probably wanted gasol to assert himself this way.

    in social animals with males competing for the alpha position, what sometimes takes place in order for the losers to go on living with the group, their testosterone levels go down when it’s not mating season, while the alpha’s is elevated and gets still higher during the season. male humans in their physical prime of course are essentially in mating season continually. successful n.b.a. teams, if they can afford to do so, often like to get the former alpha guy as a vet reserve, or supporting player (hill in Phx for example), because he can on occasion revive his dominance , assert himself and lead without inhibition when the situation calls for it.

  10. Phil Jackson did have the better players, but not the series win. And it’s not like Dallas wasn’t “due.” They consistently win 50 games and have been in the playoffs forever and haven’t won a thing. Dallas was everyone’s pick for being the softest team in town! Add in Chandler – a defensive shot-blocking/rebounding 7 footer and the team is transformed!

    Pretty weak on Phil’s part to use Pau as his scapegoat for the series loss – but this team had it’s problems all season long. Getting spanked by the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat during the season were low points.

    Phil will be hailed as the one of the greatest coaches of any sport – all time… All his Championships as a player, CBA, and NBA attest to this. Was he “lucky?” Sure. The same way Pops was “lucky” he had two Hall of Fame Centers fall into his lap. Hope the door doesn’t hit him on the way out. I just hope Phil doesn’t coach in Miami… now THAT would be a joke!!!

    The Lakers are now old and overpaid – with $90 million being spent – And they’ll still probably land Dwight Howard when it’s all said and done (Bynum, Gasol, and Odom as sign and trade bait). Dang – I hate the Lakers!!!!

  11. My son’s b-ball coach wants to trade Curry to the Lakers for one of their bigs. I hope we don’t have anybody upstairs who thinks that’s attractive.

  12. The sociobiology of basketball… love it!

  13. Judging by the list of coaches currently being mentioned as under consideration by the Warriors, Lacob is on track to make a complete botch of his choice:

  14. Coaches–oooof!

    Lacob’s desire to have a younger coach who can grow with the team means he doesn’t want to defer to a better mind. I predict many years of mediocrity, of experimenting and trades and changes that don’t go anywhere. This team will never take off until someone recognizes the strengths it now has and exploits them.

  15. I’ll be putting up an experimental theme later today. Comments welcome. And if you hate it, don’t be freaked, this is a work in progress.

  16. (13)from the lacob interview shortly after the announcement about chopping smart, he seemed inclined to expand his candidate pool and go through a number of interviews, so the names getting mention now might only be the prelim round. [snide comment coming via rgg about ‘wishful thinking’? consider it pre-empted]

    how well could riley or chairman joe know any of these guys ? if it’s second hand acquaintance/recommendations and video/resume study, rather than a history of a personal relationship, an interview is necessary before the candidates could even get to the ‘serious consideration’ stage.

  17. Felt, not thrilled about your new layout, yet. But maybe I’ll get used to it in time. The ad on top is OK, as long as you change the color of flag where the blog title is. Right now, it’s a black ad and a black box around the title. Looks bad.

    Here’s an interesting article on Westbrook’s inordinate amount of shots:

    I watched the triple overtime game with a critical eye and I was shocked at how many chances he had to end it, but wound up missing. Durant should have the ball to take the last shot of a game or overtime, every single time. It’s too bad Westbrook is not looking to create.

  18. When I said “wishful thinking” comments back, moto, I was referring to my ideas not yours. I would never impugn the words of Feltbot’s most astute commenter!

    And yes, I’m jumping the gun on Lacob. Many of his decisions the past year, however, did not give us much cause for hope. His prelims do fit a pattern.

    If Lacob is watching playoffs with an eye to changes, I hope he’s watching Dallas closely. I see a model the team could follow well.

    I’m sounding like a stuck record and should back out, FB, but kinda tight and small copy.

  19. To those worried, the blog looks nothing like it will in the end. We’re working chiefly on modifying the comments section. The rest of the blog should look much like the old when we’re done.

  20. geraldmcgrew

    Nellie on Mavs:

    BTW, does Carlisle have the coaching edge for as long as the Mavs last this year?

  21. “The Triangle”…….Interesting video piece on the Lakers going forward as well as a writeup on LA’s possible interest in, among others, Rick Adelman.

  22. imo, Adelman would be as good a choice for the Lakers as Shaw would be a bad one for the Warriors.

    Shaw would be a Kobe enabler. Adelman has the stature, the competence, and the “I don’t give a damn” of a 65 year old necessary to tell Kobe how it’s going to be. If Adelman becomes the next Lakers coach, I recommend drafting Pau Gasol in your next fantasy basketball draft.

    As for Shaw on the Warriors: nothing short of an absolute disaster. All he knows is the triangle. That is the sum total of his coaching experience. And the triangle is not an NBA system.

    It is also the absolute wrong system for a team with an offensive genius at point guard. Which is what the Warriors have, times two.

  23. Felt, at this stage of his career, NO ONE will be telling Kobe “how it’s going to be”. And that’s with the dubious assumption that there’s EVER been a time when Kobe has acquiesced to any head coaching figurehead.

    When Adelman came to the Warriors the first thing he did was pick out a star player to start kissing butt with, and his choice of Sprewell over Hardaway was a disaster of monumental proportions. Accordingly, and regardless of the fact he’s now a weathered 65 yrs old, I’m not buying your take on Adelman with Kobe.

    I’m also not buying your continued assumption that Brian Shaw would run the Triangle if he came to the Warriors. If you were starting out as a head coach wouldn’t you want to be your own man and put in a system that you felt would give your team the best chance of winning? I would, and if that’s indeed Shaw’s way of thinking then he wouldn’t be using Jackson’s system here in Oakland. During his 15 yr career as a player he obviously played for many different coaches and under many different systems. I don’t see the problem with a bright and innovative young coach adjusting to a new team with different players and their different strengths and weaknesses.

    Whether or not Brian Shaw becomes the next Warriors head coach I’ve become a big fan after reading this. Go Brian!

  24. Steve, I agree that Adelman can’t coach the Lakers without getting Kobe in his corner. I’m just saying he has the stature and the backbone to get Kobe to accept his system. And unlike a new head coach, zero fear of getting fired.

    As for Shaw and the triangle, I would lay 10-1 he runs the triangle in his next gig. Let’s start with the fact that no assistant coach of Jackson’s has ever run anything different, no matter what situation they were hired into. And end with the fact that Shaw has never run anything else, in practice or otherwise.

    I’m sure he’s a fine man, and very knowledgeable about the triangle. I fervently pray he beats the odds and gets the Lakers job.