L.A. Goes Out Like Champs…Or Not

Did this really happen? On the day we come together to celebrate our favorite women, the Dallas Mavericks gave the Los Angeles Lakers a very un-motherly funeral, 122-86, to complete a cold-hearted, embarrassing sweep of the defending champs. Will Phil Jackson walk away after suffering his first sweep in 21 playoff series? Could this be the “Phil-nale,” if you will? (sorry) The Mavs are playing as well as anyone left in the playoffs. And Mark Cuban is pretty pumped about it … It’s hard to say it was their defense that did it after putting up a buck-twenty, but Dallas had the perfect storm (game plan and personnel) to shut down the usually-prolific Lakers. When they’ve fallen in the Phil/Kobe era, the Lakers have fallen hard, and by packing the paint like a basement apartment with their bigs (Tyson Chandler = shut down) and daring L.A. to shoot perimeter jumpers, the Mavericks successfully did what no one thought possible – slaying the Gasol-Odom-Bynum three-headed interior monster. The added perk (not that Perk) was it forced Kobe outside and off the free-throw line. He was okay in this one (17 points on 7-of-18 shooting), and was really the only Laker to show up in the first half, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he was great, not when the opposing team hits 15 more threes. After a few minutes in the second quarter, the lead was already 10 and growing, Laker fans were already on their fourth Coors and Kobe was already on his sixth “look of disgust.” It felt inevitable. Dallas hit nine threes before the second was even halfway over; Jason Terry, 9-of-10 on threes for 32 points, Peja Stojakavic, 6-of-6 from three for 21 points…when you tie an NBA Playoff record for threes made with 20 (THEY HIT 20 THREE-POINTERS!) you’re probably going to win a lot of games … If this was really his last game, Phil should’ve worn a ring on each finger, and then punched Gasol in the face for embarrassing him throughout the playoffs and for allowing Marc to steal his brother’s spot at the head of the dinner table … And so much for sportsmanship. After falling into a 30-point hole, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum got mad, they got frustrated and then they got ejected. First Odom and then Bynum on a blatant cheap shot on J.J. Barea (22 points, eight assists). It was your typical David and Goliath-type scenario, except in this version David didn’t do so hot. Bynum dropping a bow was bush-league, and appears to be the only tough-guy move he has. We’re sure the Mavs will use the week before the Western Conference Finals to shake off any ill effects of that foul play. As we say, on to the next one … This summer, Kobe should make a “ship his a$% out” sequel, this time for the whole squad … Ron Artest is the king of blown half-layup/half-dunks … The nightcap saw the Atlanta Hawks rebound to pull Game 4 out 100-88 at home, sending the series back to Chi-town all knotted up. It was all about Josh Smith. We had mentioned in some back-Smack that all that jump shooting wasn’t the way Smith should play. Well, he responded with a huge game (23 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists) and was the difference. We’d almost forgotten how skilled Josh is for a dude his size until he started throwing lobs to Al Horford (20 points) and a full-court heave to Joe Johnson (24 points). Late in the game, Atlanta kept running a guard-to-guard screen-n-roll that left Smith playing a pseudo-point forward spot as his man rotated over to help, and he killed it. Every possession in the fourth was a product of Smoove playing with a brain. This one might go seven if he keeps bringing what he had tonight. But alas, he’s still Josh Smith … And we love the move by Larry Drew to again start a center in place of Marvin Williams (Jason Collins in this case) to move Horford to the four and Smith to the three. That’s where they belong if the Hawks are looking to cause some legit matchup problems … Damien Wilkins drove baseline and missed an easy dunk at the first-half buzzer. Are we still sure he’s Dominique‘s nephew? … Speaking of the Human Highlight Film, Derrick Rose had a play in the first half where he tip dunked his own miss. We haven’t seen that since ‘Nique … Now there’s no living group of people that appreciate Rose more than we do, but it’s hard to appreciate that many consecutive fourth quarter possessions where the dude didn’t even consider running a set (32 points on a meager 12-of-32). The Hawks got offense from everyone from Jeff Teague to Lil’ Scrappy (they ended on a 16-4 run). On the other end, every Bulls’ possession was Rose putting his head down and barreling towards the rim. So far in these playoffs, exclusively running a D-Rose iso late in games has been money more often than not, but we’re just starting to question how much longer the one-man-show can keep working. With that said, it’s making our brains hurt trying to think about ways to guard him. Generally the only effective responses we’ve received all involve firearms or the NCAA. In the postgame, the TNT guys got into a huge argument over how many shots is too many for Rose. Chuck repeatedly said that it’s Rose job to get other guys shots and can’t take that many. C-Webb said he has to shoot that much. Who y’all going with? … We’re out like Zen.

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