Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Make That A Really Lousy Fortuneteller

Nobody outside Dallas -- and damned few inside of it -- thought the Mavs would win the semis against the Lakers.

Nobody at all thought this would happen.

The dust has settled and the Western Conference Semifinals is over, Dallas Mavericks 4, Los Angeles Lakers 0.

Dallas is playing their best basketball at the right time, and it hit Los Angeles like a Dran-O cocktail.

Or here's a more elegant analogy -- the Lakers have been one of the diamonds of professional sports.  But diamonds are brittle and if you hit them right they shatter.

After Game Three, the uneasy murmur was that, if any matchup could produce the NBA's first ever come-back-from-three-down playoff series, it would have to be the Lakers and the Mavericks.  A defending champion . . . a Kobe Bryant led defending champion . . . a Kobe Bryant led defending champion whose legendary head coach is sailing off into retirement . . . c'mon, they wouldn't just roll over and die, right?


The 2008 Finals was the first Final series I ever watched, and I was deeply impressed by the sheer level of fuckitall displayed by the Kobe-led Lakers during Game Six.  So I foresaw Game Four going one of two ways.  Either the Lakers would unite, make the necessary adjustments (steer more offense through Bynum, do a better job defending the three), put up their best possible fight.  For pride, for the sake of their coach, for a chance -- however slim -- to take back control of the series, for the right just to play another game.  Or they'd pack it in, zombie-shuffle through the game, and Dallas would blow them to kingdom come.

Final score, 122-86.  Kingdom Come now has a crater on the far side surrounded by shreds of purple and yellow fabric.  It's the first time Phil Jackson's ever been swept in a series; an ugly ending to a proud career.

Add injury to insult.  A couple of the Lakers decided they didn't want to wait until the final buzzer to leave the arena.

I'll tackle this sequentially -- in the fourth quarter Lamar Odom got fouled in the act and went to the line.  After his first free-throw there was a pause in the action; the refs had to consult on something.  Odom flicked the ball at the hoop and Dirk swatted it.  Words were exchanged.  No techs.  You don't see it on the broadcast because the ESPN guys had cut to a graphic.

When Dallas went on offense, Odom got on Dirk and shoved him off balance (thank God, Dirk didn't fall over).  The ref, seeing this for the dick move it was and trying to contain a situation that was getting uglier by the minute, called a Flagrant-2 and tossed Odom out of the game.

Later, JJ had the ball and drove it for a layup.  Andrew Bynum elevated, and instead of going for the ball he cocked his elbow and caught JJ in the ribcage, just under his right arm.  JJ crumpled and went fetal.  It took him a few minutes to get up.  The ref immediately ejected Bynum, who left the court alongside (of all people) Ron Artest.  As he was leaving, Bynum shucked out of his jersey and sneered at nothing.  Postgame comments boiled down to, "We were getting embarassed, so I clobbered somebody."  This isn't the first time he's done this either.  According to The Word, he put Gerald Wallace in the hospital earlier this year.

The NBA needs to slap this clown down hard.  Keep hammering the point home that the butcher shop era is over.

So, let's cut it to basics.  Our Dallas Mavericks -- the guys that smart money picked to get flushed out of the first round by Portland -- have swept the defending champions.  As a special added bonus, the soonest the Western Conference Finals can start is Sunday.  A whole week off!

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