Mavs Demolish Kobe's Lakers 140-106
It’s been a rough season for Kobe Bryant and it’s likely to get rougher. The Dallas Mavericks have a healthy respect for Bryant though, because, well, he has demanded it from them over the past 17 years. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle termed Kobe an "assassin'' ...
Which is true, even as The Black Mamba shoots himself in the foot.
Friday night’s Mavericks-Lakers game featured the only two active players in the NBA that are in the top 10 list of all-time scorers. But as nice as it looks on headlines, the game was not about “Dirk vs. Kobe.” Actually, it would be more accurate to say it was “Kobe vs. Parsons.”
Or, "Nobody vs. Parsons.''
Rick Carlisle gave the assignment of guarding Bryant to Chandsome and the Mavs forward remained in that role for most of the game. Some might say that asking a player who has struggled at times this season with confidence to guard a man who has destroyed opponents’ confidence over the years is ill-advised. But Parsons more than welcomed the challenge and did a terrific job on Bryant.
Chandler Parsons guarded Bryant one-on-one for almost the entire first quarter and was as successful as anyone could be. Bryant shot 0-of-7 in the first period. Parsons pestered him all night long and by the end of the night Bryant scored just 17 points off of an ugly 6-of-22 shooting that featured the most indiscriminate shot selection imaginable.
“I just tried to make it hard on him,'' Parsons said. "He’s one of the better scorers ever to play this game. He got his looks still and he’s going to get shots up, I just tried to use my length and keep him in front and stay down in his face. Make him shoot over a bigger guy.”
Of course, as we already covered, it wasn’t about “Dirk vs. Kobe,” but IF IT WERE, well, Dirk Nowitzki shot 5-of-5 in the first quarter. He scored 23 in the game and shot 80 percent. He was clearly more effective than Kobe. Sorry, we had to.
As Dirk ages, he becomes more unselfishly efficient. As Kobe ages, he becomes more belligerently selfish.
But Bryant’s struggles were due in large part to Parsons’ defense, which, in a way, was due to Parsons’ offense. Parsons proved that one of the best ways to impact Bryant’s shot — besides pray — is to make him work on offense. Parsons did just that. He came off screens, he spun on Bryant on the baseline, he moved without the ball and got open with back-door cuts. It was a quick reminder that Parsons is 11 years younger than Bryant.
This was the type of game that really showcased Parsons' value. His stat line in just three quarters of work was impressive (21 points off 8-of-13 shooting and three assists), but when you factor in terrific individual defense it becomes apparent the kind of impact he can have on the Mavericks’ success.
As a team, the Mavericks’ offense was otherworldly. Dallas has the best offense in the NBA thus far and it’s not especially close. Even so, they found another way to be all the more impressive yet again here. They scored 140 points and managed to do so while shooting a delectable 62.2 percent from the floor and 51.4 percent (18-of-35) from three-point range.
"They are extremely good,” said Kobe of Dallas, which topped its season-high and did it with eight guys in double-figures. "But they shot the lights out. I mean, 55 percent from three is crazy.
Admittedly, for too much of the game, it looked like the Mavs were taking the night off defensively. They left a number of shooters open, there were plenty of lanes to the basket and they gave up 13 offensive rebounds. The Lakers managed to shoot 53 percent through three quarters before throwing in the towel to start the fourth.
Except ... actually, that might be the most impressive statistic you can say about the Mavericks’ offense: the Lakers were shooting 52 percent to start the fourth and WERE DOWN 29 POINTS. That is a statistical anomaly that you may never see again in any basketball game. And it basically translates to this: the Mavericks’ offense is playing at a historically high level. So, sure, there is some nitpicking to be done on defense, but when Dallas scores at a rate like this, it can afford an occasional defensive blemish.
The Mavericks reached 140 points through more than just efficiency. Hustle and effort went a long way towards building up an insurmountable lead. Nowhere was that more evident than in the closing seconds of the first quarter. Nowitzki hit two free throws with 5.9 seconds left in the period. Jae Crowder than stole the inbounds pass and converted a layup with the foul. He missed the free throw, but it was tapped out to J.J. Barea, who hit a three-pointer at the buzzer. It was a seven-point swing in less than six seconds to put the Mavericks up 11 points going into the second quarter. They never looked back from there.
Nowitzki was typical Nowitzki, which is to say he was outstandingly crisp. Any time you can score over 20 points while only missing two shots you are doing your part for your team offensively. Monta Ellis was equally efficient with 20 points off of 7-of-10 shooting to go along with 10 assists. The Mavericks made the argument here that their trio of star players can rival any three-player combination in the NBA and that includes the one in Cleveland. Add the fact that their supporting-cast members are all excelling in their roles (go ahead and cast your vote for "The Dirkie'' here) and it’s easy to see why the 10-3 Mavericks could've named their score against these sadsacks.
The video recap, from an LA perspective (you'll enjoy this):
Another bonus of blowing out the Lakers -- for the first six-game win streak since February 2012 and a crazy fourth straight time over LA -- is that both Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler played fewer than 22 minutes and no Maverick played more than 30 minutes. That extra rest (neither Monta or Parsons played at all in the fourth) will be beneficial with the Mavericks now traveling to Houston for a Saturday night game against the Rockets.
“It helps,'' Rick said. "We’ve just got to get to the plane quick, get there, get some rest and get ready. Houston’s a top team. They’re sitting there with two days rest. There’s an advantage there for them, but I like how we played tonight. In general, we’ve been playing good basketball and we’ve just got to get ourselves ready to throw it up tomorrow night. We’ve got to throw a hell of a game at them.”
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