Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks: Postgame Grades and Analysis for LA
Despite having star center Dwight Howard mired in foul trouble for much of the day, the Lakers refused to lose, thanks to some absolutely beautiful shots from Bryant, who also scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and looked virtually impossible to guard.
Steve Nash was also effective, knocking down four three-pointers and finishing with an aggressive 20 points.
Point Guard: Steve Nash
Nash was effective offensively early on, especially with the ball in transition. He pushed it up the floor for a rare coast-to-coast layup and showed why he's one of the five best shooters in NBA history, spotting up from the corner and pulling up off the dribble for a few shots.
He was aggressive early on in the third quarter looking for his own shot, which is what the Lakers need if they want to become a successful basketball team.
He wasn't his normal self, however, running the pick-and-roll. This might be the fault of his partner (usually Dwight Howard), but several pocket passes were poorly timed. And, obviously, the defense on Darren Collison was hardly there.
But Nash's shooting more than makes up for it all. He finished with 20 points on 12 shots.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Bryant was phenomenal in the first half, finding open teammates and knocking down insane shots from all over the court, especially from behind the three-point line.
One play in particular came toward the end of the second quarter. When standing at the right block, Bryant pivoted through a double-team and somehow managed to find Steve Nash in the weak-side corner for a wide-open three, which, of course, dropped.
In the fourth quarter, Bryant went berserk, making several of those "no, no, no...YES" shots that he's best known for, absolutely willing the Lakers to victory. He finished the game with an efficient 38 points (14 in the fourth quarter), seven assists and 12 rebounds.
Small Forward: Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace
It was an incredibly disappointing first half for Metta World Peace. He finished with zero points on three badly missed shots. (One of them came from the top of the arc, with World Peace standing behind the three-point line, and then, for whatever reason, stepping in for a long two that clanged off the rim.)
With 16 seconds left and the Lakers leading by two, World Peace split two free throws, giving the Mavericks the ball in a one-possession game. He responded with all he could do at that point, applying pressure defense to blow up Dallas' final play and give the Lakers their third win in a row.
That free throw was his only point of the game. He also had four personal fouls.
Power Forward: Earl Clark
Earl Clark was forced to guard larger players in the first half whenever Dwight Howard hit the bench with foul trouble. It hurt Clark on the other end, as he only scored two points on two shots. Apart from a few mid-range jumpers early in the third quarter, Clark's presence was non-existent.
He finished with six points and six rebounds in just under 30 minutes of action.
Center: Dwight Howard
Howard had a big impact early on, making his presence felt both on the offensive glass and down low in the post, forcing Dallas to bring a double-team. But he picked up two fouls in the game's first four minutes, and it hurt the Lakers badly, especially on the defensive end.
As soon as Howard came back, L.A. played better, but he was never quite able to get himself into any offensive rhythm, especially with his back to the basket. He finished with nine points, 13 rebounds and five fouls on 2-of-7 shooting.
Sixth Man: Steve Blake
Steve Blake missed his first two shots, including an ugly brick as time expired in the first quarter. But throughout the game, he swung the ball around the perimeter, spread the floor with his dangerous range and even managed to penetrate into the paint on several possessions that eventually led to open shots for the Lakers.
Blake finished the game with five points and two assists, including one three-pointer.
Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison were both great on offense, connecting on wide-open shots and finishing a combined 7-of-16 for 24 points—not a bad effort.
No other players were called from the bench apart from Steve Blake, as Mike D'Antoni ran a tight ship in an important game his team desperately needed.