May 2, 1011: Kobe Bryant launches the game-winner in L.A. The shot failed to fall, but Los Angeles did in game one.
For an in-depth analysis, join me now and weigh in—you could be enlightened.
For those who saw the game, or the highlights, there is little doubt what the answer is. If you didn’t see it, then keep reading to find out what really happened.
L.A. took the regular-season series over Dallas, 2-1, including a big 110-82 beat down on March 31. Almost no one picked the Mavericks to upset the Lakers in their best-of-seven series. Maybe only the Mavericks and Charles Barkley believe they can do it.
The Staples Center can be a very intimidating place to play—well, not really, but it certainly brings out the best in the opposition. With the stars out, visiting players sometimes want to show they’re also worthy of stardom.
At the March 31 game, fans at the Center included Eddie Murphy, Justin Timberlake, David Beckham (on his 36th birthday), Mekhi Phifer, Will Ferrell and Seal. Dallas wasn’t starry-eyed.
The Mavs proved they could win in L.A., by stealing home-court advantage from the two-time defending champions.
With a shocking comeback, Mark Cuban’s team played the first game like they wanted to make an example of the Lakers. Like they wanted to prove they’re not the same old Mavericks and are tough enough to win it all.
Miami is known for its beautiful women and pretty beaches—like L.A.—and the Mavericks aren’t likely to get distracted while in either town. That said, there is a long way to go in the playoffs and it’s still going to be extremely tough for Dallas to close the Lakers out in this series.
The Mavericks unleashed a frenzied comeback in L.A. and won the first game of the series. This time around, though, the basketball world was not as surprised, or shocked, but I don’t believe it’s because they think the Mavericks can beat the Lakers in the semis.
The basketball world wasn’t shocked because they’ve seen this act before. The Lakers lose in act one—build the drama—and finish strong in acts two and three. They’re going for a three-peat, and L.A. won’t bow out easily.
Even after the Lakers lost, Charles Barkley—who picked the Mavs to win the series—softened his tone and sounded even less convincing about his prognostication. Chuck was correct in picking Atlanta and Memphis to move past the first round this year.
It seemed like Barkley had lost confidence in his Mavericks pick, though. On the other hand, I don’t believe the Lakers lost any confidence because of the loss to the Mavs.
I do believe that if the Mavs had lost the first game, then this series would have essentially been a wrap. Now, while playing from behind, the Lakers have to slug it out with Dallas.
No problem. Reports of L.A.’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The Lakers haven’t had to fight with their backs against the wall, yet. Not really.
They lost to the Hornets in the first game of the playoffs this year. Not surprisingly, the Lakers came back to close New Orleans out in Louisiana—going away in six games. Granted, Dallas is stiffer competition, but the Mavs have been known to stiffen up.
L.A. lost a 16-point lead after a 9-0 run it had put on Dallas, and the Lakers still had a chance to win it at the end of regulation. The 98-96 win at Staples center should give Dallas a boost of confidence, though. The Mavs still realize, however, that the Lakers are adept at closing teams out on the road. They thrive on it as a matter of fact.
This revolting set of circumstances—losing Game 1—happened to the Lakers and the Spurs during the first round this postseason. The difference is the Lakers bounced back and displayed their two-time defending champion pedigree, while the Spurs bowed out. I fully expect the Lakers to bounce back and win Game 2.