Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks: In Big D, that's D for determination
The Los Angeles Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of their NBA Western Division playoff series. What must the Lakers do to win? The game starts Wednesday 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.
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But towering over his competitors was Dirk Nowitzki, who had 14 rebounds, 13 of them off the defensive glass. The seven-footer has been a rock during the playoffs, with just under 28 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game. Nowitzki is highly versatile in that he can play either center or forward – and can post up or hit the three-ball with equal deftness. And supplemented by the refreshingly solid play of center Tyson Chandler, who added 11 points and 9 rebounds in the game, the Mavericks have managed to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of L.A.’s Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. And Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ center, needs better production than just 8 points and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes.Skip to next paragraph
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Is Kobe ready?
As in any series of this magnitude, there are always intangibles that play key roles. Kobe has had difficulty in the past few postseasons with last-second shots, including Monday night's game against Dallas. And Nowitzki, for his part, has proved to be superior in that sense. Kobe himself said earlier this week, as he sat out a practice session at the Lakers’ training complex, “I’m not clutch.”
Really? For a man who’s got NBA title rings for every digit on one hand, definitely not the kind of mental attitude you want down 1-0 and going into a second home playoff game.
Is it possible that the Mavericks have gotten into Kobe's head? The one way Bryant can prove that he’s a leader of the team and not just a leading scorer is to focus more in the closing minutes and share “the rock” more than he’s done lately.
What to look for in Game 2
The Lakers suffered mightily in Game 1 because of an inability in the second half to get the ball inside to Bynum, Gasol and Odom. By allowing Dallas to run and shoot and then turning the ball over in the latter part of the game, the Lakers let Dallas direct both the tempo and the final result.
In Game 2, on the offensive side, the Lakers need to hit the low post, be more patient with shots and slow the game down. That means Kobe has to be a more effective playmaker and that Los Angeles can’t rely on the outside shot alone at crunch time. Kobe can’t do it all by himself. The Lakers have to directly take on Dallas’ “bigs” and try and get them into foul trouble as early as possible.
In this way, L.A. softens up the paint and gives itself more opportunities to win – and LA should win this game.
Otherwise, the Lakers may just have to settle for spending the remainder of the playoffs watching on a big screen TV – accompanied by a big bowl of popcorn.