Not surprised? Neither is the Beef.

“I’m not shocked.  We’ve been doing this for years.  Dropping games at home.  We finally got what we deserved.”

Kobe Bryant (courtesy of the LA Times)

Yeah, when you play like that, you kind of do get what you deserve.  Good news, the Lakers know this.  Bad news, the Mavericks know this.

After game one, Kobe told the media that he was worried, concerned, scared, whatever.  All that is apparent is that something is wrong in Lakerland and no, it’s not that Jack Nicholson chooses to wear sunglasses inside and at night.

What we are suggesting is that maybe Phil Jackson should check his prescription because so far, this series has looked like a giant senior moment for the Zen Master.

During the waning minutes of game one, the Mavericks went small by putting in Peja Stojakovic for Tyson Chander and J.J. Barea for Shawn Marion.  Jackson responded by trying to pull Andrew Bynum who he had just put in for Lamar Odom and instead go with Steve Blake.  He had already made the change and the refs wouldn’t let him redo his substitution.

According to league spokesman Tim Frank, it’s in the rule book.

From there, Dirk Nowitzki was put on the line from a foul from Pau Gasol and the Mavericks took the lead with his two made free throws.  The rest is history.

Jackson has been coaching since 1989.  Twenty-two years later he should have a pretty good understanding of the rules.  The Lakers did submit video to the league offices but their challenge of the call was denied.  Tough luck.

Their only sign of life in game one came from Bryant’s hot hand.  He settled any dispute over his ankle as he scored 36 points.  The Lakers only sank six shots in the entire fourth quarter but three were his.

Don't look Phil.

Down the stretch, LA missed six three pointers including Kobe’s last-minute shot to try and win the game.  Before that, they blew another chance as Gasol lost control of the ball on an inbound pass.  They looked frantic and it showed.  Poor ball movement and frantic shot selection is what did them in as they couldn’t cope with the big guys in Dallas and their zone defense that doesn’t bite when a double-team opportunity is presented.  Sorry, but this is not New Orleans.

It’s easy to spot a frustrated LA offense.  Passing essentially stops and you see less slashes and more spot up jumpers.  Additionally, the Mavs never rolled over and managed to overcome a 16-point deficit since everyone other than Bryant couldn’t buy a shot.

Luckily, playoff series are multiple games and Jackson had the opportunity to adjust and respond last night in game two.  Instead, they looked worse.

The offense had even less movement as the Lakers and Jack Nicholson looked more and more frustrated.

It escalated as Ron Artest’s temper flared.  Dallas had an 11-point lead with two minutes remaining when he shoved the Mavs’ Marion and picked up a loose-ball foul.  Less than a minute later, he close lined Barea in a move that got him kicked out of the game and suspended for game three that just so happens to be in Dallas.

In both games, the Lakers haven’t looked like themselves.  They didn’t defend home court as they were unsuccessful in establishing any sort of rhythm in either game.

Jackson has been trying to ride with what won them the series against New Orleans by relying heavily on his big guys.  The offense isn’t running smoothly at all, they are taking more jumpers and missing them and they aren’t able to deal with Chandler’s wingspan to get the offense boards that lead to second-chance points.

Additionally,  DeShawn Stevenson is giving them a headache.  He is starting the games guarding Kobe and is one reason the Black Mamba has only made six shots in the first quarters of both games combined.  They are forfeiting points by putting a defender like Stevenson on the floor but Dallas is outscoring LA 51-43 in the first quarters of both games regardless.

However, it’s not just Stevenson that is making waves in this backcourt.  Jason Kidd was instrumental in game one with two three pointers in the fourth quarter and in game two Barea was unstoppable.  The Beef has always chastised this LA backcourt from Derek Fisher’s immobility to the fact that Jordan Farmer is Jordan Farmer.  Blake was supposed to add depth to the guard core in LA but he’s been invisible this entire postseason.  In the two games so far against Dallas, he has only take one shot in the fourth.  Last night, he missed two, open threes in the third quarter that would have brought them to within one point.

Ron's flagrant foul could have tremendous repercussions.

Now, LA is getting closer and closer to missing out on the opportunity to make this a three-peat.  They are having to travel to Dallas to face a Mavs team that essentially has a wounded animal left to deal with.  Artest will not be present for game three as Jackson will be forced to start Matt Barnes instead.  Barnes has an even worse attitude than Ron Ron as proven by the last time these two met in the regular season (Also, he only has four points in this entire series so far).

There is always the option of starting Odom instead but that would be a mistake.  So far, he outscoring the rest of the bench 21-16 for the series and starting him would take the wind out of LA’s secondary unit which is already getting run into the ground by Dallas’ reserves (in these two games, they have been outscored 70-38).

It’s really going to come down to Phil if LA wants a chance.  He has already stated that he doesn’t plan on returning after this season and it’s becoming more and more apparent that his foot might already be out of the door.  He made a name for himself coaching some of the biggest egos in the game from Michael Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal.  However, this Lakers team looks hopeless with a scared Bryant, a hot Artest and an uninspired Gasol.

They have looked nothing but lethargic and tired so far against the Mavericks as Phil looks even more laid back.  He didn’t even have the audacity to defend Artest for his foul.  It’s playoff basketball Phil.  Grow a backbone.

Dallas has knack for losing game threes in the playoffs especially with a lead (trust me, we all know this by now) but this may be different.  In the past, Dallas has faced beasts with bloodthirsty appetites for destruction.  However, these Lakers look like sleepy kitties.  Unless Phil lights a fire under their asses, his retirement to Montana may be coming sooner than expected.

Ron Artest’s foul on J.J. Barea


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