Where's Robert Horry nowadays? Can the Lakers pull Rick Fox away from Eliza Dushku sitting courtside and suit him up? Heck, I'd even settle for bringing The Machine back from the Nets. The Lakers missed their first 15 3-point shots on their way to a 2 of 20 night. It was a bad day for the team to have its worst 3-point shooting night of the season by far. It's not as if the Lakers were perfect in all other areas but if they have an average night from behind the arc they probably win this game. Instead, the Mavs win easily, 93-81 and take a 2-0 lead heading back to Dallas.
The Lakers once again had no answers for Dirk Nowitzki. They actually did a worse job defending him than they did in Game 1. His numbers were fairly similar but he got better looks than he did on Monday. His primary defender, whether it was Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom, often got lost on switches and Dirk wound up with a smaller opponent on him. He was able to get open looks and good ones with players like Shannon Brown or Derek Fisher on him.
LA tried to put Ron Artest on him but that failed miserably. In the final 3 minutes of the first half, Dirk hit both of his shots and made a couple free throws all while Artest attempted to guard him. Artest might have the strength to match with Dirk but he doesn't have the height or the speed.
I mentioned in my Keys to Game 2 that the Lakers should try to double Nowitzki right when he gets the ball. The Lakers didn't really have many opportunities to try and double him. The Mavs did such a great job of spacing that any defender leaving their man would've created a wide-open look. They have the right personnel around him to have threats on the perimeter and on the inside and he is such a good passer that it's definitely a big risk doubling him.
As far as the superstar on the other side, Bryant still settled for far too many jumpers. Just 1 of his 19 attempts was within 10 feet of the rim. Sure, the Mavs are playing him for the drive and leaving smaller defenders one-on-one with him on the perimeter but he's playing into their hands settling for those shots. He has to force the issue and get to the rim. Maybe he should watch some game film of Dwyane Wade for pointers. Although, the Mavs interior defense has been doing a great job and maybe that's keeping Bryant from driving. Odom tried to penetrate but was met at the rim by the likes of Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler and Nowitzki. He was just 2 of 10 within 10 feet of the bucket.
The one man that deserves no blame for this loss was Andrew Bynum. Bynum bounced back from a pathetic Game 1 to post 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting and 13 rebounds. They established Bynum in the post early, feeding him the ball early. In the second quarter they had great ball movement to open up some good looks for him. He was 6 of 8 for 14 points in the first half and then he had just 3 shot attempts in the second half. Why do the Lakers do this? Why do they go away from their bread and butter? Try feeding Bynum until the Mavs prove they can't stop it. But the Mavs did adjust and did a better job denying the entry pass in the second. The reason they could do such a better job in the second half is because of the putrid shooting night from the perimeter for the Lakers.
Ron Artest was 1 for 4 from behind the arc. Kobe - 1 for 5. And the biggest offender was Steve Blake who missed all 5 of his attempts. It wasn't just that he missed all 5 attempts, it's that he missed 5 wide-open attempts, many of them being quite crucial. He missed back-to-back 3-pointers on the same possession with the Lakers trailing 64-60 and missed one to open the fourth that would've cut the lead to 3.
Aside from a few of Bryant's looks, the majority of the attempts were open shots. That's what makes this loss so difficult. It's not as if the Mavericks played great defense and had a hand in the shooter's face, it's just that the Lakers missed.
Despite the 2-0 series lead, these two teams are very evenly matched. Bryant's shot was inches off in the closing seconds of Game 1 and in Game 2 the Lakers had an off-day from deep. But it doesn't matter how close or how it happened, the fact is the Lakers are down 2-0 and now have to head to Dallas to try and make this into a series. My advice is to leave those Staples Center lights on and send Artest and Blake back out there for a few hours.