DONUT 1: Ron Artest is the easy one to diagnose.
When the going gets tough, Ron Artest gets going ... going into the stands, going into the recording studio, or going into J.J. Barea's face and neck with a forearm/punch that is destined to turn the little Puerto Rican into a martyr and destined to cause somebody in the league office to wonder if it can get its recently-awarded Citizenship trophy back off the "Tru Warier's'' mantel.
The Dallas Mavericks had Game 2 wrapped up, a lopsided 93-81 in which JJB played a key role (his 12 points matched the entire LA bench total) and was dribbling out the clock to end it.
So ... the Mavs went nuts, right? Retaliated? Vowed to send Brian Cardinal to go sweep the leg of Luke Walton or something?
Nah. Why waste the energy?
Said JJB: ''It's not a basketball play, so we'll see what happens.''
DONUT 2: But before the league can decide today if Ron-Ron deserves a one-game suspension (and listen, if he doesn't, it's a sign to go ahead and pack the tire irons for Friday's Game 3 at the AAC), Artest's own coach is weighing in.
"It's uncalled for," said JackZen. "It's a good chance he'll be suspended, but I hope not."
Now THAT'S a rarity for JackZen, who usually stands up for his guys ... but in this postgame comment, and others, sounded completely whipped. ... as if spring in Montana alongside Jeanie Buss wearing a basketball bikini cannot come fast enough.
DONUT 3: And speaking of a broken man ... whatever happened to Pau Gasol, who -- faced with the prospects of being compared to Dirk -- suddenly looks like the same Gasol who's butt The UberMan used to beat when Pau was a Grizzly?
Dallas' defense has cut him in half, almost, statistically. That's occured across the board here; Dallas held the Lakers to 42.9-percent shooting in Game 1, the lowest field-goal percentage they had posted in these playoffs.
In Game 2, the Mavs held them to 41 percent.
The psyche of Gasol? By the fourth quarter, his own fans were booing him due to his lack of productivity and perceived effort.
And afterwards, Kobe was actually pretending he was happy to be taking his boys on the road.
"We're not very good at home the last two games,'' Kobe said, "so going to Dallas might do us some damn good.''
DONUT 4: Kobe Bryant? He's some sort of "snake'' (or is it a "swan''?) ... an animal, I guess. You cannot out-think Kobe Bryant and you cannot break Kobe Bryant ...
Unless over the course of two games you throw at him all the 2-guard weapons you've got (Kidd, Marion, Brewer, Stevenson, none of whom have spent their careers in Dallas being pounded by The Drama Queen) and you focus on one thing:
Don't let him get to the rim.
Two-game result: Points in bunches. But by our count, he has one shot at the rim and only two made FGs even near the paint.Listen to the defensive stylings of The Matrix:
"We play defense now. We're able to key on certain guys and help when we need to. They are a talented team, they're the defending champions and they're going to hit some shots. You've got to stay out there and make them keep taking contested jumpers. When they're hitting them, more power to them. When they're missing those shots, they get heavier as the game goes on."
The Mavs have formally transformed Kobe Bryant -- who has 36 and 23 points in the two games -- into a high-priced, "heavy''-balled jump-shooter.
He's a taller Jason Terry, basically, in white top hat and tails. So he's dressed for "formally.''
DONUT 5: We kicked around some of these issues and more as yours truly, Ric Renner and Mark Followill go way into the morning on the Game 2 postgame show on FS Southwest:
DONUT 6: The paint is peeling from the Lakers bandwagon (stupid me is stuck with my LA-in-6 prediction). Lakers issues are flying around like schrapnel.
It's dangerous out there, right, Andrew Bynum?
"It's deeply rooted at this point,'' Bynum said, and here's what he's saying that about: "It's obvious that we have trust issues, individually. All 13 of our guys have trust issues right now. I think it's quite obvious to anyone watching the game -- hesitation on passes, and defensively we're not being a good teammate because he wasn't there for you before -- little things. And unless we come out and discuss them, nothing is going to change."
All 13 guys have "distrust''? On a team made up of peons led by King Kobe? Then obviously the distrust traces right to ...
We interrupt this possible assault on Kobe Bryant with an announcement from ... Kobe Bryant:
"The 'trust' he's referring to is being able to help each other,'' Bryant said, kind enough to re-explain what poor, dopey Bynum had just explained with perfect downtrodden eloquence. "On the defensive end of the floor, you saw a lot of layups. He gets frustrated when he supports a guard coming off the screen-and-roll and nobody supports him -- the big rolling to the basket. It's quite simple." No, sir, it is not quite simple. This is an affair of the head. It's complicated business.
By the way, while an LA big man was in one room talking about "trust issues,'' here's what his counterpart down the hall was saying:
"We're a great road team because we're resilient,'' said Big Wood. We're a family; everybody roots for each other.'' DONUT 8: Led, I believe, by Rick Carlisle, the Mavs have ceased their impetuous and traditional whining at the refs ... and are shedding with that the "soft'' reputation.
How 'bout if we let the Blazers do the crying? (Which they did.) How 'bout if we let the Lakers do the sniveling? (Which they are, sending G1 film to the NBA offices for a review, their protest denied because their claims were wrong.)
Dallas has stopped with the whining already.
Meanwhile, since when do the Mavs WANT the refs to allow brutish play?
Well, since NOW.
Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood controlled the Game 2 paint and suddenly, Bynum's foot shuffles are being called, TY isn't fouling out, and on the perimeter, guys like Kidd and DeShawn are issuing that extra nudge.
The Mavs are winning "pretty'' ... with some muck-it-up at the core ... which as Carlisle has preached forever is the way Dallas can win no matter its offensive circumstances.
And again, you leave the whining and the cheap-shotting and the otherwise-powerless feeling to the other guy. You don't throw punches at Portland's Chris Johnson or Portland's Nic Batum or LA's Ron Artest or LA's Matt Barnes (Barnes does still play for LA, right?). The properresponse is "scoreboard.''
DONUT 9: How to keep up with it all?
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DONUT 10: Dirk Nowitzki is leafing through the Lakers roster like it's a lothario's Little Black Book, page after page after page being used to reminded each and every one of the names in the book that they can't defend him.
Pau Gasol? Next! Andrew Bynum? Next! Lamar Odom? Next! Ron Artest? Next!Numbers? Dirk finished with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, seven rebounds and two assists. So he's got 52 points in the two games. But it's not about that. Just as enjoyable: Watching the Lakers bench and fans and on-the-court guys all but crossing their fingers and wincing every time The UberMan gets the ball in his hands.
It is, at this moment, for the Lakers, as if the handoff is about to go to Barry Sanders ... or as if a swing is about to be uncoiled by Hank Aaron.
DONUT 11: Before the game, Jason Kidd (remember, his team was up 1-0) announced:
"You got to think the opposite, that you're down one and you need to win Game 2. That's the way we've got to come out."
After the game, Kobe Bryant (remember, his team was down 2-0) announced:
"Desperate? That's a strong word. I think when you play 'desperate,' you don't play your best basketball.
And suddenly, Kobe Bryant is mind-banging himself, as the winning team is playing like it is "desperate'' and the losing team is too cool to admit that it should be.
DONUT 12: The psychological battle is being won by the Mavs, who now have three straight road playoff wins (a franchise first). It doesn't allow anybody in MavsLand to get too cocky. (You'll excuse as fun-lovin' our clever "Coffin Nails'' graphic and our snappy "Beat LA/Sweep LA'' headline, right?)
But ... how many times have road teams won the first two games of a best-of-seven series? You just saw it occur for just the 19th time EVER. In the previous 18 occurrences, 15 times that road-warrior team went on to win the series.
So the series is just two games in. And it's just 2-0. So it's still a footrace.
Dallas has lapped its opponent.