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January 07, 2007

Comments

NIKEY

great game . jackson is a lot better than riley . this team's progress proves it .
and jackson did it with one surgery only (hip).
pat will require 2 ( hip and knee )

Brett

Sadly, I must agree with your comment on Dirk. Not the flopping part, the guy's 7 feet tall and was making acrobatic layups around the Lakers' bigs. (BTW- Lakers are a tall team!)

But yeah that stupid foul, along with his 10-24 shooting cost the Mavs the game.

basketbawful

This was one of those classic "It doesn't mean what you think it means" games. The Lakers shot 55% despite Kobe going 9-20. That's because guys like Vujacic (6-7, 4-5 on 3's), Turiaf (5-9), and Smush Parker (5-7) shot over their heads. The Mavs, on the other hand, shot 42%, with Nowitzki (10-24) and Howard (8-20) being the primary bricklayers. And the Mavs got outscored 33-21 in the 4th. And Dirk committed the dumb foul. I don't see all those things happening again...let alone in a playoff series. But I could be wrong.

Here's my biggest concern/beef with the Mavs as a team. They're a terrible passing team. They currently rank 24th in the league in assists...which is surprising for the league's "best" team. The only team ranked below them with a winning record is the Orlando Magic, and they're in the East so they don't count. Too much of their scoring comes off of isolations, and there isn't a lot of movement off the ball. The Lakers, also surprisingly, are ranked 3rd in assists. Give it up for the Triangle.

Although I don't have a lot of respect for Riley right now, I will say this. His head coaching career started about a decade before Phil's. At this point, he's lost a lot of his passion for coaching, but he's still sticking around...and acting like a douchebag (particularly in how he Plutoed Van Gundy). But after he left the Lakers, he took on two legitimate "project" teams (New York and then Miami), horrible teams who weren't anywhere *close* to making the playoffs. He transformed them almost immediately and had them contending with the Chicagao Bulls for supremacy in the East. Some would say that Jackson outcoached Riley in the 90s, but the truth is he out-Michael Jordaned him. Those Knicks and Heat teams could hardly score in an empty gym, yet they both challenged the Bulls, who had the league's best player scoring and getting all the calls. Frankly, that says something.

geebs

The only team ranked below them with a winning record is the Orlando Magic, and they're in the East so they don't count.
HA. You sir, just made my day.

Craig

"Those Knicks and Heat teams could hardly score in an empty gym"

Great line!

But remember, as great of players Jackson has coached over the years, it's the role players stepping up at seemingly the right time that's a big part of Jackson's legacy. (1991 Finals w/ Paxson hitting key jumpers vs. Lakers, 1992 Finals vs. Portland with the bench rallying to clinch the title, the Bulls 1994 Season - Jackson's best coaching job ever, the 1997 Finals with Steve Kerr, Sahsa Vujacic last night.)

Good point about Dallas poor passing, they were working the ball all over the floor until the 4th quarter. Then they spent too much time dribbling around. Maybe the Mavs guard were like "Bro, Vujacic is on me, I can take this guy every time!"

The Lakers are a year away from being a contender. To me this is all a learning experience for what is a very young team. Dallas had to lose eventually and it's impressive that it took a stellar defensive effort and timely play from the Lakers bench to do so.

Basketbawful

"But remember, as great of players Jackson has coached over the years, it's the role players stepping up at seemingly the right time that's a big part of Jackson's legacy."

I agree with you. But I have two counterpoints. First, the same thing can be said of Riley's championship teams in the 80s. Guys like Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis, and Mitch Kupchak were fantastic roleplayers who made invaluable contributions (particularly Cooper and his resolute defense on guys like Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas). He also got notorious malcontents like Bob McAdoo, Jamaal Wilkes, and Mychal Thompson to subvert their egos and provide assistance to his stars.

Secondly, those Knicks teams that challenged Jackson's Bulls were comprised almost entirely of roleplayers. They had Ewing -- an overrated "super"star, and that was about it. You know who the second leading scorer of that era was? John Starks. Do I need to say more? When your second-best player is John Starks, you're in trouble. Moreover, their front court (outside of Ewing) couldn't score, and they had a revolving door at the point guard position. They were a horribly flawed team. Yet they consistently pushed the Bulls and even made a trip to the Finals during Jordan's first retirement. Considering what he had to work with, Riley did a masterful job. Especially when you consider he completely changed his coaching style from his time with the Lakers.

As for Dallas...the team doesn't have any playmakers, and that's going to kill them. Jason Terry isn't a true point guard. They don't have anyone to run the offense through if Dirk isn't hitting his shots and the guards can't penetrate. It hurt them in '05 against the Suns, it hurt them in the Finals last year against the Heat, and it will hurt them at some point this year. Because when a team makes a defensive stand, you need to have someone who can create or draw lots of fouls (coughDywane Wadecough).

That's been the biggest change in the Lakers this season. Kobe's adhering to the Triangle and allowing his teammates to shoot, and they have facilitators like Odom and Walton who love to get people involved.

I don't agree that they're within a year of contending, though. I might be wrong, but I feel like Brown and Bynum have been overperforming, and I think they're too weak in the front court to seriously contend. And I'm not sure they have the cap flexibility necessary to upgrade. But who knows...they've surprised me so far.

Brett

Just want to chime in on the whole Mavs assist thing. They are always near the bottom of the league in assists. It's how they play. Dirk, Terry, Howard, Stackhouse, and Devin Harris ALL take a couple of dribbles on 95% of their shot attempts, thus resulting in the low assist numbers. They were ranked similarly in the team assist category last year and still went to the Finals, so it's not necessarily a flaw. They have the best record in the league, with 2 wins over San Antonio and 2 over the Suns, so they must be doing something right on offense.

It only hurt them in the Finals last year because Stern refused to hand the trophy to Mark Cuban, so he had the officials send Wade to the line 48 times a game.

Basketbawful

I understand what you're saying Brett. We're obviously talking about one of the best teams in the league, if not *the* best. So clearly they don't have many flaws, and I might be picking nits here. But I think their lack of ball movement is a problem when their primary scorers -- Nowtizki and Howard -- aren't hitting their shots. It allowed the Lakers to rally and beat them last night. Now, the team (particularly Dirk) is so good that it won't be a problem that often. But say what you will about Wade's excessive number of freethrow attempts (and it was obscene), the Mavs still allowed themselves to be beaten. They let guys like Gary Payton's corpse and Antoine Walker -- Antione Walker for god's sake!! -- hit clutch shots. And Dirk, after shredding superior Western Conference foes, just couldn't deliver in the big moments, particularly in games 3, 5, and 6, which were decided by 2, 1, and 3 points respectively. I rewatched the series this fall, and I have to say the Mavs' inability to get good shots against tough defensive pressure doomed them in those three games. They just couldn't get anyone open, and there was no one to create the shots.

Maybe it's a minor thing. Maybe it won't keep them from winning the title this year. But if they have an Achille's heal, that's it.

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