Each game they lost, and each game they talked about mounting a comeback. No one wanted to believe that the Lakers would bow out like this, getting swept by a team branded as ‘losers’ for so long, by a future hall of famer, Dirk Nowiztki, who most thought missed out on his big chance to win an NBA title five years ago.
The Lakers just couldn’t handle Nowitzki. No matter who was guarding him (it was Gasol most of the time), Dirk just kept on making those awkward looking shots that only he can. He averaged 25.3 points in the series with the Lakers. As we’ve pointed out earlier in this series, that’s nothing special. He’s always good, when it matters more and when it matters less.
He scored ‘only’ 17 points in Game 4, a game mostly dedicated to the dethroning and humiliation of the Los Angeles Lakers. It was Jason Terry who stood out the most in this series and deserved to be right up there with Dirk in reasons why the Lakers got swept. 32 points with 9 tres, tying a playoff record and averaging nearly 20 points for the series.
We’ve spoken enough in the previous wins of the Mavs. They were too good for the Lakers, too focused, too prepared, whatever and whichever aspect and factor you want to take in. The biggest notable from last night was Phil Jackson’s final game, this time looking like THE final retirement and Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum’s disgusting way to end their season. Maybe it’s a good thing Ron Artest was still serving suspension from his antics or who knows what kind of flagrant foul he would have come up with.
Jackson got his team swept for the first time in his 21 post season appearances. It seemed he was far in thoughts midway through the second quarter, as Dallas’ bench ran away with the game (Peja with 21, 6-6 from three, Barea with 22). He couldn’t see anyway his players could turn this around. Bryant can’t win on his own, we’ve been calling about this all season long. He couldn’t get it done in this series as well. Gasol arrived without energy to this series. Maybe guarding Nowitzki took it out of him, disheartening him time after time. Maybe it was something else.
Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were actually the best of the Lakers, if you can call anyone that during a sweep, but turned out to be crappy losers when it was all said and done. Someone said something that in hard times and losses true character is revealed. Odom’s foul was aggressive, but not too violent. He wasn’t doing it to injure Nowitzki. Bynum’s elbow to Barea’s ribs could have ended way way worse than it did.
The Dallas wagon now has time to rest its aging horses for a while. The Grizzlies-Thunder show looks like a long one, and we know Dallas players can use the rest. Maybe not too much, because they can’t be any hotter than they are right now. For the Lakers, Jackson’s retirement is just the first of many changes that are likely to follow this summer. This group reached three NBA finals, winning the last two. It’s done. The energy to pull through together isn’t there anymore.