Tonight's fistfight between your
Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers was just one of those nights when one could sense trouble right from the
get-go. Thanks to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, Kobe's lackluster numbers are a side note. Other than Dirk, Jet, and Shawn -- seriously, what sore
ribs? -- none of the Mavs scored more than six. The good guys got it to one possession within the final 30 seconds, but a couple of missed Mavericks
jumpers and five made Laker free throws sealed it, 96-91. Over the past week, Dallas has played three teams we might see in the postseason -- Memphis,
New Orleans, Los Angeles. All three of those have been losses.
On playing from behind -- Los Angeles outscored Dallas in all but the final quarter . . .
"Just couldn't get over the hump. I think we really lost the game at the beginning the fourth when Kobe wasn't even in and we just couldn't get any stops. They kept pushing the lead with him out of the game." -Dirk Nowitzki
"As we worked to get back into it, it seemed that every time we were right there, there was a second chance opportunity that they were able to get or an untimely turnover. We just never got over the hump." -Coach Rick Carlisle
About struggling on offense . . .
"It was an inopportune time to have a bad shooting night for us. We created a lot of good looks early and a lot of the shots that we normally knock down just didn't fall." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"We had some looks there that we didn't make. That last one I had (a missed ten-foot jumper)-- I couldn't believe that one rolled out. It was like that all night." -Jason Terry
"I think it was a great atmosphere game, the momentum was there, but every time we got a chance to hit a big shot it seemed like we kept missing." -Shawn Marion
Wow, the Lakers -- very big, tall, very wide, massive, ugly . . .
"They're one of the longest teams in the league and that's their advantage. I think we did a decent job of keeping them off the glass, but they're still long in there and they still had plenty of opportunities near the basket. That's why they're back-to-back champions, because they're long and the bigs play off of each other." -Dirk Nowitzki
Their bigs were long all night. They were coming over the back getting rebounds -- that's their game. Knowing that, we've just got to be ready for it next time." -Jason Terry
"They're a big team, Pau Gasol and Bynum are a handful down there." -Shawn Marion
Regarding Kobe Bryant -- 6-20 for 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, one "tweaked" ankle . . .
"As a team we did a great job on Bryant with Shawn and the guys that covered him made it tough. He didn't have a big night, but their big guys were a huge factor." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"If you told me before the game that Kobe would only have 16 on a bad shooting night then I think we would take our chances." -Dirk Nowitzki
On defense generally . . .
"On those nights that you aren't going to make 50 percent of your shots, it's important to play defense and rebound. We held them under 45 percent and actually had more second-chance points than they did, which speaks to our effort and the way that we stayed after it. It was just an up-hill battle all night long." -Coach Rick Carlisle
Backhanded compliments . . .
"Last year I thought (Dallas) finished probably the best of any of the teams in the West, and got short-circuited by San Antonio in the playoffs." -Coach Phil Jackson
In short . . .
"It's a tough loss, obviously it's a game that had meaning. I'm disappointed with the outcome, but not the effort." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"It was a statement for us. It was a big game. We talked before the game that this is a team that can beat us in the postseason. This team is a serious contender and we approached it like that." -Kobe Bryant
"We're right there with them.'' – Dirk.
What's next? Only sixteen games left . . .
"These are playoff games at this point in time. When you look at our schedule, our next three opponents are tough opponents; it's going to be a playoff-style environment, as it was tonight. All of this is preparation, preparing us for the road ahead." -Jason Terry