Mavericks Lose, Lakers Closing in on Second Seed in West

On a night where Kobe Bryant shot 6-20 from the field and severely sprained his ankle, the Dallas Mavericks still fell short to the Los Angeles Lakers 96-91. Now, Dallas (47-19) is only a half-game ahead of Los Angeles (47-20) for second place in the Western Conference. If the Lakers win the Pacific Division, they would get the higher seed in the playoffs if the two teams finish the regular season with the same record. They have split their first two games and play again in Los Angeles on March 31.

After boasting an eight-game winning streak, the Mavericks have now lost three out of their last five games. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion led the Mavericks with 25 points. The 25 points for Marion tied his season-high in that department. Jason Terry was the only other Maverick to score in double figures with 13 points in the defeat. Pau Gasol made one of two free throws to make it 92-89 and then Jason Terry missed a look from nine feet away on the baseline with 12 seconds left. Andrew Bynum pulled down the rebound and was able to put the game away with free throws for a 96-91 victory for the Lakers.

Andrew Bynum was the difference in the game as he had 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Lakers, who were able to bounce back after having an eight-game winning streak snapped in Miami on Thursday. Bryant turned his left ankle late in the third quarter. Despite the injury, he played more than half of the fourth quarter to help the Lakers secure the victory. After the game, he commented that he was worried that he was done for the season based on feeling that he severely injured his ankle. The Lakers have won nine of the last 12 meetings with the Mavericks. Prior to the loss on Saturday night, the Mavericks had defeated the Lakers six out of the last nine times at home.

The Mavericks are still a legitimate threat to the Lakers, they just were not the better team on Saturday. Right from the start, the Mavericks had an incredibly rough time getting the ball in the basket. At times, it looked like there was a lid on the basket. The effort and energy were there, but the shots just would not go down. With 16 games left in the regular season, the Mavericks need to continue working on building a complete game.

Did THAT Just Happen?!

- If Shawn Marion's ribs are still feeling sore, it is awfully hard to tell. He had nine of the Mavericks' 21 points in the opening quarter and that set the tone for his evening. It is tough for players to lose their position based off an injury, but Peja Stojakovic might have a hard time getting his starting position back when he comes back from his stiff neck based on the way Shawn Marion is meshing with the rest of the starting lineup.

- Rodrigue Beaubois looked incredibly shaky on offense during the first half. Most of his passes were off target and he had a hard time keeping his balance when he was trying to get into the paint. He was forcing the issue too much and it ended up with him going to the bench in the tail half of the second quarter. In a match-up against with the Lakers, he might have a hard time having a significant role for the Mavericks.

- Jason Kidd was unable to get out of the starting blocks on offense due to what he was having to deal with on the defensive end of the floor. While on defense, Jason Kidd was getting pounded by Ron Artest in the first half of the game. Kidd got in major foul trouble by getting his fourth foul at the 10:44 mark of the second quarter. After the game, Kidd mentioned that was basically wrestling with Artest when they went down to the post. It should be a learning experience for the veteran point guard and he should be better prepared if that match-up occurs again in their final game at the end of March.

- Steve Blake was a killer for the Mavericks in the third quarter. Due to a mixture of collapsing on Lakers players in the low post and pure negligence on defense, Blake hit multiple three-point baskets without a defender in sight. The two baskets he hit from long range where in the final two minutes of the quarter when Kobe Bryant went to the locker room to have his ankle examined.

- Brian Cardinal got a lot of minutes at the small forward position. The size for the Lakers left Cardinal and the Mavericks at a disadvantage. On a night where Corey Brewer entered the game and immediately penetrated inside the paint to earn two free throw attempts, Cardinal's game left people wanting more. Brewer may need more time getting familiar with the system, but the Mavericks will need his effort and energy in the next game against the Lakers.

- With the Mavs trailing 89-84, Dirk Nowitzki backed down into the lane and looked like he was getting ready to put up a fadeaway jumper. Instead, he ripped a line-drive pass through the middle to Tyson Chandler but the big man positioned himself for a rebound. The ball ended up in the first row, not its intended destination.

 

Box Score Revelations

- It felt like the Mavericks were killed on the boards but that actually was not the case. They actually had more offensive rebounds than the Lakers (15-12) and out-rebounded the Lakers (48-43). The Mavericks even had more second-chance points than the Lakers (21-12). The problem was that Andrew Bynum was able to take advantage on a few key possessions with junk baskets off of misses from Kobe Bryant. Bynum outmatched the center combination for the Mavericks. The Lakers big man had 22 points and 15 rebounds compared to Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood combining for eight points and 14 rebounds.

- The statistic that really killed the Mavericks was the points in the paint category. The Lakers outscored the Mavericks in the paint 56-38.

- Things could have been much worse for the Mavericks in the first quarter. After one, they were only down a single point (22-21) with Rodrigue Beaubois, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki going a combined 2-12 from the field. Nowitzki was able to recover and shot 10-19 from the field. Jason Kidd had some brutal misses, but he finished 2-5 from the field. Rodrigue Beaubois was the player that was unable to truly bounce back. He finished the game 1-7 from the field and the lone basket was on an uncontested layup just before the game was over.

- The Mavericks did not have a single turnover in the first quarter. They finished the game with 13 turnovers. The Mavericks turned the ball over six times in the second quarter and five times in the final quarter. The Lakers finished the game with only nine turnovers. Los Angeles' worst quarter in the turnover department was the third quarter with four turnovers.

- The Mavs shot 12-26 from long range in the first game in January. They shot 1-8 from long rang as the game went to halftime and finished the game shooting 4-16. The shooting performance snapped a streak of 35 consecutive games with six-plus 3-pointers made, which is the third-longest streak of all-time.

- The fouls / free throw situation was troubling for the Mavericks after the early stages of the fourth quarter. At the 10:02 mark of the final quarter, the Lakers were one foul away from allowing to shoot free throws for the remainder of the quarter. The Mavericks did not shoot a free throw until the two-minute mark of the quarter. The Lakers ended up shooting 13 free throws in the quarter and the Mavericks shot four. A mixture of questionable no-calls, turnovers and lack of aggression bit the Mavericks in the butt.

 

Tweetings From the Mavs Universe

- "Howdy folks. I'd like to welcome all of you to Front-Runner Night at the AAC. Fans in Laker gear get a free Yankee cap and Tom Brady 8x10."

@rhylan_rowe

- "Shawn Marion is one a few players in the league that can get 20+ points without a single play run for him"

@GDixon410

- "Dude sinks halfcourt shot to win 82" tv from starpower. One more made bucket than Roddy B. 0/6."

@sbass1310

- "Lakers first half MVP? Roddy B."

@ArtGarcia_NBA

- "That's what makes the Lakers so tough, they lose Kobe but they still have Steve Blake. Who's with me?"

@skindoeshoops

 

If You Don't Like What I Said, Read What They Said

- Rick Carlisle on the loss, "It's a tough loss. Obviously, it's a game that had meaning. I'm disappointed with the outcome but not the effort."

- Rick Carlisle on timing, "It was an inopportune time to have a bad shooting night for us. We created a lot of good looks early and a lot of the shots that we normally knock down just didn't fall."

- Rick Carlisle on the defense, "We held them to under 45% and actually had more 2nd-chance points than they did, which speaks to our effort and the way we stayed after it. It was just an uphill battle all night long."

- Jason Terry on his last shot attempt, "That last one I had, I couldn't believe that one rolled out. It was like that all night."

- Shawn Marion on the game, "I think it was a great atmosphere game, the momentum was there, but every time we got a chance to hit a big shot it seemed like we kept missing."

- Dirk Nowitzki on the game, ""Bynum was a monster in the middle, but if you told me before the game that Kobe would only have 16 on a bad shooting night then I think we would take our chances."

- Dirk Nowitzki on the turning point, "We really lost the game at the beginning of the fourth where Kobe wasn't even in the game. We just couldn't get any stops."

- Dirk Nowitzki on where they stand, "We’ve already beat some of the best teams in the league, we beat the Lakers before a couple of months ago, so I don’t think we have to hide from anybody. We can beat anybody, we can also lose to anybody. That’s the fine line in this league and it’s gonna come down to who is play well in the playoffs."

 

BG's Baller of the Game:

Baller status has been granted to Shawn Marion. Sore ribs, I don't think so. For the second straight game, Marion was the best player on the court for the Mavericks. Over the last two games, Marion had to go up against Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant and performed about as well as you could hope. Those two players combined to shoot 11-35 from the field and Marion deserves most of the credit for those performances. The Mavs forward was able to score in the low post against the Lakers regardless of the opponent. Marion is definitely earning more than honorable mention to remain a starter when Peja Stojakovic returns.

 

Dallas will take Sunday off before facing a team that gives the Lakers trouble on their home floor, the Portland Trail Blazers. The Mavericks have won 21 of the last 26 match-ups with the Trail Blazers, including 13 straight from 1/17/04-4/7/07. Three of the five losses during that span came in the first three games of that span came in the first three games of last year's season series. The Trail Blazers won that last year's season series 3-1. The Mavericks won the first two games of this year's season series in Dallas and have now won 19 of the last 22 match-ups at home. Dallas has taken the last 3-of-4 in Portland, but has struggled overall on the road against the Trail Blazers. The Mavericks hold an all-time record of just 18-44 in Portland. Tuesday's game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trailblazers will tip off at 9:00 pm CST.

 

Twitter?  I don't even know her!  Oh......

You can stay connected with all things Dallas Mavericks by following Bryan Gutierrez on twitter @BallinWithBryan

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