Poised to deliver the knockout blow to the reeling Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t hold back, delivering a 122-86 haymaker in game four to sweep Los Angeles out of the postseason in front of a booming crowd at American Airlines Center in Dallas on May 8.

It was a record-setting day for the Mavericks from three-point range. Reserve guard Jason Terry tied a playoff record with nine three-pointers and Dallas matched a team postseason record with 20 overall. Terry’s five three-pointers in the second quarter helped pave the way to a 63-39 halftime lead.

With their season minutes away from ending, things got personal for the Lakers in the second half. Late in the game, both Lakers forward Lamar Odom and center Andrew Bynum were ejected on back-to-back defensive plays within a minute of each other for throwing elbows with the game clearly out of reach. Odom threw a heavy hit to Dallas star forward Dirk Nowitzki on a pick, while Bynum’s elbow to guard J.J. Barea’s ribcage on a layup attempt put the Mavericks’ back-up point guard down for nearly five minutes.

Television cameras repeatedly caught images of Los Angeles head coach Phil Jackson on the sideline, rendered speechless. Jackson, who has promised to retire after this season, could only look on as his three-time Western Conference champions suddenly fell apart before a national audience on Mother’s Day.

“We ran into a buzzsaw today,” Jackson said. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles with 17 points but the guard struggled to find his shots, as did the rest of his teammates. Los Angeles shot 37 percent from the field and just 20 percent from beyond the arc.

Dallas’ bench racked up 86 points in the game thanks to Terry’s efforts, along with 22 points from Barea and 21 points from forward Peja Stojakovic, matching the Lakers’ total team output for the game.

Dallas advances to the Western Conference Finals and will host the winner of the Memphis-Oklahoma City series. Memphis currently leads that series 2-1.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO