The Lakers Backhand The Mavs; Rondo Goes Into Beastmode

MTV’s Extreme Makeover needs to get at the Lakers. From Ugly Betty to Brooklyn Decker, no one can figure out how they do it. All year long, they have that just-got-out-of-bed sluggishness. Then spring comes around with all that fresh air and nice weather and all of a sudden, they look completely different and they are out there dunking on people, staring people down and tossing opposing coaches aside. Dallas invaded L.A. last night. They were left with a reminder: the champ is here … In a game billed as the battle for the West’s number-two seed, L.A. sent a message to the Mavs with a decisive knockout punch in the second half during their 110-82 win. With the W, the Lakers pushed themselves to within two-and-a-half games of the Spurs for the top overall seed in the playoffs. Every energy stat, every effort number was completely slanted in L.A.’s direction. For example, Kobe Bryant (28 points) had a crazy save in the second quarter, tipping a pass, and then slapping it back inbounds. It ultimately led to a Ron Artest three. Just before that, Matt Barnes had an angry baseline dunk and then Andrew Bynum (18 points, 13 rebounds) followed by just straight destroying Dirk Nowitzki (27 points, 13 rebounds), grabbing an offensive rebound over him, hitting him with the hardest drop step you will see and then turning and dunking. This really is a different team. Plus, we all agree that if Bynum continues to play like Hulk, there is no way the Lakers are losing right? … In the second half, the game got ugly and players started getting frustrated. Tempers boiled over in the fourth quarter when the Lakers blew open the gap to 20. Jason Terry came with a two-hand shove on Steve Blake and then Barnes went street, jumping first at Terry and then throwing Dallas’ assistant Terry Stotts into the Mavs’ bench … The biggest thing for Dallas is going to be overcoming fear. Every time we watch these two teams, it’s like Dallas is out there to run around while the Lakers are there to win. Do the Mavs really believe they can beat L.A. in a series? Can they really take a swing at the bully and keep their lunch? … Artest had a three-point play in the fourth quarter where he caught a bullet pass and converted on a lay-up, all with his left hand. It was insanely difficult, but he made it look like he was playing on a Nerf hoop … Are these Lakers the best version yet of this group? … With Tim Duncan, the Spurs have never, ever lost five straight games. That’s 15 years of dominance, 15 years of numbing consistency. Until now … We started the debate yesterday: who’s closer to a championship – the Spurs or the Celtics? Boston answered definitively last night, cruising to a 10-point win in San Antonio by controlling the final three quarters behind Rajon Rondo (22 points) and sending the Spurs to yet another L … At the end of the first quarter, the Spurs were up 33-31. It was VIP treatment all around as players from both sides easily got to the rim. Two years ago that would’ve never happened. Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich would’ve called a timeout and started cussing people out and someone on Boston would’ve started setting dirty screens. Times have definitely changed … Rondo took over in the second half, spearheading a game-changing third quarter run with his constant energy. He had eight points and five assists in the third quarter alone, and then continued it down the stretch. In the final five minutes, the Celtics got whatever they wanted on offense, scoring at will. Rondo ended the night with 14 assists and zero turnovers. Is there any question he is the most important Celtic? … And can we seriously kill this “Big Three” thing? Or at least come up with different monikers. It’s so lame and uncreative. Plus, now with nearly every good team having a “Big Three,” it means absolutely nothing … For the Spurs, Popovich admitted it during his end-of-quarter interview: way too many threes (they went 8-29 for the game). In the third quarter, their offense was suffocated, scoring just two points during a nearly six-minute stretch when Boston took control. As for their defense, back in the day, you had to get by layers of Spurs before you scored. Now, it’s like beat one guy and you have a layup … We were never big fans of Chris Webber as an analyst. But when you stick him next to Rick Fox for a night, he really stands out, looking extra comfortable. It was pretty funny to see the difference. C-Webb was flippin’ out on everyone – Dirk, Peja, Brendan Haywood – for not being more physical while Fox was looking like he spends six hours a day grooming himself … We’re out like Krstic.