On Saturday night, the Lakers tried to get their first road win of the season against the Mavericks, a team they lost to in the season opener. The Dirkless Mavs looked to take advantage of a struggling Laker offense. Since the advent of Mike D’Antoni’s new system, both Laker bigs Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard struggled. Last night, during a road loss to the 9-2 Grizzlies, Gasol clashed with his new coach after being benched the entire fourth quarter. Kobe even walked off the court in disgust with time still running off the clock. Both Steve Nash and Steve Blake remained out for tonight’s game with Blake’s suspected return being Tuesday at home.
The Lakers started with Darius Morris, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard.
The surprising beneficiary to D’Antoni’s new offense, Metta World Peace, started the Lakers off with a three and two layups. The Lakers had tried to get Dwight some easy looks early but to no avail before World Peace drilled another three. As Mayo tried to respond, Gasol grabbed another rebound for three early ones as Kobe soon gave Dwight Howard a beautiful alley-oop dunk. By the first timeout with just under eight minutes to go, the Lakers had a six point lead.
Antawn Jamison, who was outstanding last night in Memphis, got off to another fast start with two layups. Pau Gasol got into the game with a few layups himself and soon the Lakers were up 24-12. As Gasol continued to be aggressive, World Peace maintained his outside stroke and by the time Kobe Bryant got involved the Lakers were up by fourteen. Dallas began a run of their own towards the end of the quarter but Metta World Peace maintained confident from the outside with his fourth three. After one, the Lakers led 36-23.
The Laker began the quarter with Kobe and Jodie Meeks both on the floor. Meeks was the point guard and quickly drained a three before Kobe scored off a steal. The Mavericks had absolutely no answer for the Lakers, as L.A. led 41-23. Very early on Kobe was once again playing role of facilitator. The Laker defense was active and incredibly energized for the first time on the road this season. Dwight Howard was constantly disrupting shots.
The contrast between the Laker team we saw against the Kings and the group playing against Dallas was incredible, as the Mavericks struggled to search for a comeback. A running hook from Shawn Marion gave the crowd some enthusiasm but it was quickly stifled by another three from Jodie Meeks. Meeks has really been lighting it up from outside ever since receiving the green light to shoot from coach Mike D’Antoni. Pau came back in with eight minutes to go, a rare second quarter time when he and Dwight were both on the court at once.
A Maverick run cut the lead to fifteen as the home team gained momentum but a surprising important three point play came from Darius Morris. Rookie Jae Crowder nailed a three after a rare defensive breakdown from the Lakers. A fastbreak score after another Dallas turnover resulted in an Antawn Jamison layup as well as a three pointer on the next possession. By the time the Mavericks called their next time out, the Lakers were back up by 24. Sloppy play from the Mavericks allowed the Lakers to take a halftime lead of 65-38 after Kobe nailed a buzzer beating three.
The Lakers came out in the second half looking to keep up their 59% shooting from the field. Despite offensive success as a team, Pau Gasol continued to look uncomfortable and out of sorts offensively. He was playing very far from the basket and failing to knock down long jumpers. Dwight Howard, on the other hand, was dominant both offensively and defensively. An easy hook from Howard gave the Lakers an incredible 31 point lead, as everything was coming too easily.
The Lakers continued to attack the basket and repetitively found their way to the free throw line. Kobe was the scoring leader and proceeded to play a two man game with Dwight Howard on nearly every possession. A rare post up from Pau Gasol resulted in another easy bucket for the Lakers as Dallas continued to fumble the ball rather than make plays. Rick Carlisle was forced to take another time out as the Laker lead remained 29.
Halfway through the quarter, the Laker starters had 60 points compared to 46 for the entire Maverick team. As Pau missed another shot badly, Mike D’Antoni continued to favor Antawn Jamison at small forward coming off the bench. Gasol soon began to play more effectively in the post as Dwight Howard continually went to the line. The Lakers quickly had attempted fifteen free throws just in the quarter.
The Lakers continue to bang up the Mavericks inside and led after three by a margin of 89 to 65. Dallas did end the quarter with four straight threes but still trailed by a massive deficit.
The Lakers entered the final period with a simple task: just maintain the lead. Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace were the only starters on the floor at the start of the quarter. The Mavericks could not throw a pea in the ocean, and continue their abominable shooting riddled with lazy passes and turnovers. Dwight Howard effortlessly paced the Lakers in maintaining their lead, as no defender had been a match for him all night.
Antawn Jamison kept up his outstanding play off the bench after gaining a double-double early in the fourth quarter. Showing how dominant the Laker bigs were, Dallas center Chris Kaman fouled out with still seven minutes in the fourth quarter. A rare Devin Ebanks sighting occurred as the outside shooting remained hot for L.A. and the seats in American Airlines arena grew more and more empty. Kobe and Pau did not even need to play the fourth quarter as the Lakers went on cruise control to coast to an easy win.
The final score was 115-89.