The NBA defending champion Los Angeles Lakers appear to be in deep trouble after falling behind, 2-0, to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the Western Conference Playoff.

The Lakers couldn’t keep pace with the hot-shooting Mavericks in Game 2, falling 93-81, at the Staples Center on May 4.

Veteran power forward Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 24 points, while forward Shawn Marion added 14. Nowitzki told reporters he knew Dallas would win one of the first two games in Los Angeles, but didn’t expect to steal both road games.

“If you would have told me before that were going to win both games, that would have been hard to believe,” Nowitzki said. “But I think we earned it.”

While Dallas was shooting well, L.A. struggled to find their scoring rhythm. Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored 23 points, but the rest of the team shot only 41 percent from the field and 10 percent from behind the three-point line.

The Lakers will attempt to come back and win Game 3 in Dallas on Friday night. A road win would be a confidence builder for L.A., which faces the task of trying to become only the fourth team in NBA history to come back to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games. The Lakers will need to play with a deep sense of urgency, but Bryant insisted to reporters that his team shouldn’t play desperately.

“Desperate? That’s a strong word,” Bryant said. “I think when you play desperate, you don’t play your best basketball. What we need to do is relax, focus on what we’re doing wrong and the mistakes that we’re making, and we have plenty to review and lock in on that.”