Archive for March 30th, 2012
Things were looking a little bleak for the Houston Rockets through the first half of this matchup. Particularly in the first quarter when a team that looked nothing like an NBA defending champion gave in to the Rockets’ pressure and fell behind 16 points in the first 12 minutes of basketball. Now, we really need to emphasize that the Houston Rockets, albeit their 27-24 record for the season, were playing with a short handed and a little bit worn lineup. The Rockets had played three consecutive games, including one that took an overtime effort to defeat the Sacramento Kings, and at the end, that extra effort took a high toll on the team. The Rockets leaded all the way but had no answers to a series of plays by the Mavericks Jason Terry. Scoring seven consecutive points in less than a minute, Terry got the home team rolling and with enough momentum to take the lead and never look back.
But he wasn’t the only other playing contributing from the bench. Rodrigue Beaubois chipped in with 14 points and 5 assists, Brandan Wright had 13 points and 7 rebounds and even Lamar Odom finally gave some signs that deep underneath he is still the talented player that once kept the Lakers defense going. In what could be perhaps his best performance yet with the Dallas Mavericks, and yet very far away from what he’s full potential could give, Odom finished the night 9 points and 4 rebounds. Perhaps the fewer boos he got from his own fans was quite a motivational boost for the Maverick Power Forward.
But it was all going to change in the third quarter. The Mavericks needed to react. As their head coach put it: “We got off to a very poor start,” Rick Carlisle said. “Odom, Terry, Wright, all of those guys that came in, Beaubouis had a very impact game. All of those guys did, and they were the difference.” And the difference came via Jason Terry. He scored 7 of his 12 points of the night in a one-minute stretch that gave the Mavericks a 21-6 run that finally put them ahead in the scoreboard. Odom, on the other hand, had a 4 of 5 shooting performance, including a driving wraparound layup during that third-quarter run that drew a huge cheer from the crowd. A big change considering how much negative attention he’s been getting from his won crowd. As if that was not enough, Odom also had four rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and no turnovers in his 23 minutes. That’s one heck of an improvement considering he’s most recent numbers.
Dirk Nowitzki finished the night with 21 points despite his aim been a little off. It is unusual to see Das Dirk in a 5 of 17 night from the field. But the love was certainly spread around for this game as Nowitzki was the only Maverick’s starter who scored in double figures. He made 11 of 12 free throws. A good record considering that 10 of the attempts came before halftime. The Mavericks are now going to face the Miami Heat in what should be one heck of a game on Thursday. The Mavs defeated the Heat in last year’s finals, but they dropped their first matchup this season. It’s time to get even.
Kobe Bryant took the ball in the last minute of the game and with two complicated fade away jumpers from the corner, first tied the game and finally put a two-point lead with 30 seconds left to seal the deal for the Lakers to take a difficult win on the road against the Golden State Warriors. The two shots in the final minute of the game gave Kobe a final 30-points and 5 rebounds for the game. The Lakers also got some good help Paul Gasol, who has certainly lifted up his performance once the trade rumors ended up in nothing. The Spaniard finished the night with 19 points and 17 rebounds and 3 assists, a great performance to help his team improve to 31-19 for the season and secure the third seed in the western conference.
On the other hand, we have to give some extra kudos to the Golden State Warriors , who gave on heck of a battle despite the team playing without three of its regular starters, who are recovering from injuries. Despite that, the Warriors showed some good skills and finished the game tying a franchise low 5 turnovers during the game. David Lee had 23 points and nine rebounds, and rookie Klay Thompson scored 20 points for the Warriors. The whole thing could had been convincely heroir had they actually managed to seal the deal in the final minute of the match. Because let’s face it, the Warriors overcame a 16-point first-half deficit. Still, the whole effort went south and Golden State lost for the seventh time in nine games.
It really seems as if head coach Mike Brown is still trying to figure out a way to get the Lakers all in the same page. Perhaps he is really tying to go out there and prove these guys that he is the boss and that if the team is going to work well, they need to respect his decisions and his role in the team. Perhaps that’s exactly why he hasn’t hesitated to make bold decisions like benching Kobe Bryant on their previous game (and loss) to the Memphis Grizzlies. It was a unique and rare sighting. The Lakers were trying really hard to get back in contention in what eventually turned out to be a 102-96 loss to the Grizzlies. It was a bold move, to put Kobe Bryant, one of the sports most effective closers, down in the bench for at least 4 minutes during the fourth quarter. So having done that, it shouldn’t come that much as a surprise that he sat Andrew Bynum for the better part of the last quarter. Bynum took a 3-pointer with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock in the third quarter and that really got on Mike Brown’s nerves.
“I don’t know what was bench-worthy about the shot, to be honest with you,” said Andrew Bynum, about Mike Brown’s decision. He finished the game with 11 points and five rebounds. “I made one [in Sunday's game]. I wanted to make another one. That’s it. He took offense to it, so he put me on the bench.” Some commentators have said that he is lacking maturity and that is keeping him from achieving his full potential.