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Andrew Bynum has been suspended the first five games of the Los Angeles Lakers 2011-12 NBA season and fined an additional $25,000 for the hit on J.J. Barea of the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter of Game 4 during last weekend’s NBA Playoffs.
The hit (video here if readers have been living under a rock for past few days) was obviously unneeded as Barea sliced to the bucket in the midst of a blowout and, even though Bynum has since apologized, most non-L.A. based fans will be clamoring for more than five games since it seems that he’s kind of set a precedent for this sort of thing with similar incidents happening with Gerald Wallace and Michael Beasley in the past.
In the end, though, losing Bynum for five games certainly will be a detriment to the Lakers as they begin next season without Phil Jackson on the sidelines and no “defending NBA champions” moniker to protect. The addition $25,000 that Bynum was fined for ripping off his jersey following the incident will go to a worthy NBA charity, I’m sure, but one has to wonder how much that will affect Bynum as he’s scheduled to make over $15 million next season.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, the season is over. The Dallas Mavericks swept them out of the Playoffs with a Game 4 win on Sunday that was the most embarrassing defeat the Lakers have suffered since Game 6 of the 2008 Finals against the Celtics. In this game and throughout the series, they didn't look anything like the team that has won the last two NBA Championships. The Mavericks thoroughly outplayed them on both ends of the floor, and for the last three quarters or so, it looks like they pretty much gave up.
According to our Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll, this pattern of coming completely off the hinges when a series appears to be out of reach is something the Lakers are all too familiar with.
But it didn't have to end like this: with a second-round sweep capped off by a 36-point hammering in the final game coached by Phil Jackson. We were worried about this possibility from the moment the Lakers lost Game Two. We've talked about how when the Lakers fall apart in the playoffs, they fall apart with a vengeance. Just as they did in Game Six in Boston three years ago, today they got down early, decided they just didn't have the answers and let their opponents name the score.
The Lakers looked like a team closer to the lottery than a third NBA Championship on Sunday. Between the level of play, and their actions toward the end of the game (Odom and Bynum ejections) the Lakers just didn't look like Champions on Sunday. Everyone has a bad day, but on Sunday everyone on the team had a bad day during the most important game of the season.
As hard is it may be, we're also going to head over to our Mavericks blog Mavs Money Ball for reaction from the winning side. For them, this win means more than just one of 16 it will take to win the NBA Championship.
This win means more to the Dallas Mavericks than just advancing to the Western Conference Finals. They swept the two-time defending champions, in the final season of the greatest coach ever to lead a team in the NBA. They did it with grit and determination and clamp-down defense, all while being called soft by the entire sports community. They may have eight more games to win if they want to get that ring, but for now we can all sit back and revel in the glory of a massive accomplishment. I am SO proud of my Dallas Mavericks today.
And that pride is the biggest difference this morning between Lakers fans and Mavericks fans. Nobody is blaming the Lakers for failing to win three straight Champioships. That is an incredibly difficult task, and with so many good teams in the NBA, it would have been hard to expect that even if the team played at it's best. But a team should be able to perform with pride and humility whether winning or losing. If they had lost in a hard-fought series that would be one thing. But they just flat out gave up. Mavericks fans are proud of their team and their effort, Lakers fans more ashamed.
So where do they go from here? The Lakers didn't look like they had the athleticism to compete this year, and they will only be older next year. Some changes will have to be made. Silver Screen and Roll is curious about what those might be.
Needless to say, this'll be quite the interesting offseason here in Lakerland. There are questions that need answering up and down the roster. What the hell happened to Pau Gasol? How can this team get younger and more athletic? Why can't the Lakers ever put together a decent bench? And if Derek Fisher isn't going to come through with postseason magic, what exactly is he good for?
We have no idea what those changes will be, but in an offseason without a premier free agent like LeBron to steal the attention away, that could be the biggest storyline of the Summer (save for the labor negotiations). No matter who they bring in, the Lakers need more than anything to get back to playing the type of basketball that has won them championships, and that they can be proud of at the end of the day.
The Lakers were swept out of the Playoffs on Sunday in what was a disappointing ending to what figured to be a promising campaign. But the biggest story from this game won't be that the Lakers failure to earn a threepeat, or even the ridiculous flagrant fouls that got Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum ejected late in the game. This one will be remembered as Phil Jackson's last game as an NBA head coach, if he follows through on his promise to retire (and stay retired).
Jackson is the most decorated coach in the history of North American professional sports, and this would be an unsuitable ending to an otherwise incredible career. Based on everything we heard after the game (from Jackson himself, Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant) this really does seem like the end of the line for Jackson. Kobe sounded like he might even tear up a little bit, via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
"It's tough to put into words what he's meant to me," said Bryant, who had only 17 points on seven-for-18 shooting Sunday. "I grew up under him. The way I approach things, the way I think about things — not only in basketball but in life in general — a lot of it comes from him. It's a little weird for me to think about how next year's going to be."
In this day an age of Brett Favre's and Tiki Barber's and Shawn Kemp's and Chris Forberg's, no one really knows if this really is the end of the line for Jackson. But According to Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN, Jackson really made it sound it like this truly was it.
"All my hopes and aspirations are, this is the final game that I'll coach," Jackson said. "This has been a wonderful run."
He then criticized the officiating so far in the Playoffs, which had earned him a fine earlier on Sunday morning. But you can't fine a guy who isn't a coach anymore David Stern, so there! I think it's safe to assume that Phil Jackson isn't going to be coaching in the NBA during the 2011-12 season. We don't know what the future will hold beyond that, but as of right now, Phil Jackson has coached the last game of his illustrious career.
The Lakers had their season ended on Sunday at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, a 122-86 drubbing that was a painful way to end the three-peat dreams. Dallas took advantage of the Lakers on defense throughout the series, and it culminated in a signature blowout in Game 4. Here are some takeaways from Sunday's final game of the NBA Western Conference semifinals:
Bench Play: The Mavericks dominated bench production during the series, outscoring the Lakers by an average of 23.3 points per game in the first three games. However, in Sunday's finale, the bench went into overdrive. The Dallas reserves score a whopping 86 points, matching the production for the entire Lakers' team. Jason Terry led Dallas with 32 points, while J.J. Barea added 22 points and Peja Stojakovic scored 21. The Mavs' bench made 30 of 39 field goals, 76.9% from the field.
Turning The Peja: Nine years after a dreadful performance against the Lakers in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals while with Sacramento, Stojakovic got a small measure of revenge against L.A. on Sunday. Back in Game 7 in 2002, Stojakovic was 3-for-12 including missing all six three-pointers in a home overtime loss. However on Sunday, Stojakovic, now 33, didn't miss against the Lakers. He made all seven field goal attempts, including six from distance, scoring 21 points. Amazingly though, the 89.5% career free-throw shooter did manage to miss one from the charity stripe.
For more news and information on the Lakers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.
The season is over. The Dallas Mavericks completed their mind-blowing sweep of the Lakers on Sunday with a 122 to 86 humiliation of the defending champs. From early in the second quarter the game was never close, the Mavs dropping bomb after bomb from long range to tie an NBA record for most three-pointers in a playoff contest with 20. Jason Terry shot 9 of 10 from behind the arc, Peja Stojakovic 6 for 6.
The only drama in the final period came from a pair of Laker ejections. First Lamar Odom was shown off for throwing a half-hearted upper-body check at Dirk Nowitzki. Less than a minute later Andrew Bynum got tossed for leveling Jose Barea with a forearm. It was a hugely embarrassing scene for the Lakers organization, which now faces an offseason of recriminations.
Phil Jackson will step down as head coach. For a guy who won five championships as a Laker, today was a horrible way to go out. Today also marks a low point in the Laker career of Pau Gasol, who was completely ineffectual in this Dallas series. The entire team bears responsibility for this debacle, but Pau's regression from All-NBA force to wholly owned subsidiary of Dirk Nowitzki was especially hard to comprehend.
The Mavs head to the Western Conference Finals to face either the Memphis Grizzlies or Oklahoma City. And for the first time since 2007, the Lakers will spend June at home.
The pounding continues. At the end of three quarters in Dallas, the Mavericks have pushed their lead out to 24 points. The Lakers actually had a decent opportunity to get back into this game when the Mavs' offense stalled out at the beginning of the third. They scored just two points on their first 10 possessions. But the Laker attack couldn't take advantage: in a span of 90 seconds, Derek Fisher missed two open threes and an open layup, empty trips that pretty much eliminated any hope of a stirring comeback.
With 7:07 to play, Ron Artest missed a fast-break layup of his own. When Dallas got the ball back, Jason Terry hit his seventh three-pointer of the game. He'd soon add his eighth and ninth, and as the fourth period begins he's tied the playoff record for threes in a game.
The last 12 minutes of the Phil Jackson era are upon us.
The champs are dying. They began the second quarter of today's Game Four in Dallas by allowing the Mavs to hit for a 23 to 9 run, fueled by the three-point shooting of Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic and the dribble penetration of Jose Barea. Midway through the period the Mavs' lead had exploded to 18. With 31 seconds left before halftime, it hit 25.
The Mavs' offense is cutting the Lakers to ribbons. Their crisp ball movement has the purp and yellow utterly confused and incapable of properly marking Dallas shooters. Terry and Peja are bombing away at will: in the second period they combined for 28 points on 9 for 12 shooting. As a team the Mavs made 11 threes in the first half, tying an NBA playoff record.
Meanwhile, the Laker offense has collapsed into a ditch. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum are trying to get some points inside, but the lack of an outside game once again has the Mavs shading everything into the paint. For the quarter the Lakers scored a disastrous 0.73 points per trip. Every shot they're taking is contested.
It's just a matter of time now. The season is coming to an end. The only real suspense in the second half surrounds whether the Lakers will continue to compete, or whether they'll punch out mentally and allow the final score to get truly ugly, a la Game Six in Boston, 2008.
The first quarter of Game Four has seen the Mavericks open up a four-point lead on the defending champs. The Laker offense isn't doing much: they're averaging less than a point per possession so far. Kobe Bryant has wasted no time looking to score and has 13 points on nine shots (including free-throw possessions), mostly coming on pull-up jumpers in the paint. And the team as a whole is doing a nice job of getting to the line. Otherwise, guys are struggling to generate clean looks. Pau Gasol still looks uncomfortable, and everyone's still honking their three-point attempts.
The Mavs used an 8-0 run in the middle of the period to put a little distance between themselves and the Lake Show. Their offensive execution looks solid, as usual. Dirk Nowitzki has just four points, but four different Mavs have made three-pointers. Already the Dallas bench has come through with eight points.
Laker fans are accustomed to hunkering down in front of the TV on Sunday afternoons in May to watch the purp and yellow do battle in the playoffs. Today, though, is more than a little different. If the champs lose, the season will be over, as will the magnificent coaching career of Phil Jackson. The collapse of the Lakers has happened with frightening speed. Most of us, I think, haven't really internalized the notion that the three-peat dream could end so quickly and ignominiously, with a sweep in the second round at the presumably sweaty hands of Mark Cuban.
But the Mavericks have no intention of waiting around for us. They've been fantastic in the playoffs and appear to be clearly better than the Lakers at this point. Their spacing, ball movement and shooting have been impeccable. They've refused to panic despite facing significant deficits in Games One and Three. And no one on the planet is playing as well as Dirk Nowitzki right now. I'd have no problem feeling happy for Dirk, who's always been kind of a thinking man's NBA superstar, if he weren't ruthlessly gutting a team near and dear to my heart.
The challenges facing the Lakers are legion. Some of them are tactical. They need to be more organized and disciplined in their pick-and-roll defense. They somehow need to both challenge shooters more aggressively and limit the Mavs' dribble penetration. On offense, they have to remember that Andrew Bynum is on the floor and is good at scoring points. Also, it would be great if they made a three-pointer every now and then. Frankly there's not much reason to think they've managed to figure this all out since the end of Game Three on Friday night.
And some of the challenges are psychological. Knowing that they're down three games to zip, do they have the will to keep fighting? They're saying all the right things, and no doubt when they take the court today they'll believe they have a shot to climb back into the series. But what if the Mavs go up eight in the second quarter? At what point does a Dallas victory start to feel like a fait accompli, assuming it doesn't already? As we've documented over at Silver Screen and Roll, when the Lakers lose in the playoffs, they lose ugly. For Phil's sake, if for no other reason, every Laker has to commit himself to playing this one out like a professional. Anyone who feels like quitting, well... we shan't soon forget or forgive.
A couple things to look for early on this afternoon:
1. Who's in the Lakers' starting lineup? In the absence of Ron Artest on Friday night, Phil started Lamar Odom alongside Bynum and Pau Gasol. The combination worked pretty well, and it wouldn't surprise to see Phil stick with it and bring Ron off the bench. I wouldn't mind seeing Gasol come off the bench instead - he needs something to jolt him out of his weirdly disengaged state - but I don't think Phil will get quite that daring.
2. What's the Lakers' approach on offense? Are they taking their time and getting the ball down on the blocks? Or are guys hoisting up jumpers early in possessions? The latter will be a sign that they've mentally checked out and are looking for shortcuts. If that's the case, steel yourself for a Mavs blowout.
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.
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