Lakers are Humbled at Home by the Mavericks – LA Times
By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
These guys are going to finish 73-9?
The same ones who stood in the center ring of a circus of miscues and missed shots Friday in an embarrassing home loss to the Dallas Mavericks?
No way, no how.
The Lakers didn’t just lose to Dallas as much as destroy a season-long story line. And it’s only their second game.
The Chicago Bulls can apparently rest easy after the Lakers’ 94-80 loss. Their NBA-record 72-10 mark in the 1995-96 season looks safe, despite the fact some of the Lakers talked earlier this week about surpassing it.
The Lakers are still favored to win a second consecutive championship, but nothing from Friday will be on their year-end highlight video.
Kobe Bryant had an awful shooting night, scoring 20 points on six-for-19 shooting. Derek Fisher had five points on two-for-nine shooting. The only thing that stood out about Ron Artest was his three offensive fouls and three points on one-for-six shooting.
The Lakers went 36-5 at home last season. Now they’re 1-1.
“It’s one of the longest nights we’ve had here in this building, I’ll tell you that,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “That was one in which we should have refunded our fans.”
The Lakers seemed agitated throughout the game, never leading by more than two and committing other gaffes beyond their 39.5% shooting.
Bryant is habitually close to the league limit for technical fouls in a season, and he’s off to a quick start, picking up his first technical foul of 2009-10 after exchanging words with Dallas reserve forward Kris Humphries in the second quarter.
Artest also picked up a technical foul after arguing a call in the third quarter.
“Nothing seemed to be happening right out there for him tonight,” Jackson said. “I thought he was playing a little too hard for the game, didn’t measure the refereeing out.”
The Lakers were hit with two technical fouls for defensive three-second violations. Their defense also sagged in other ways, no play more indicative than reserve guard Jose Barea blowing past almost everybody for a layup and a 78-56 lead, the largest of the game for Dallas.
As the final minutes wound down, Artest sat on the bench, a towel wrapped around his neck, staring into the distance and slowly rubbing his chin as Lakers fans left en masse.
A sarcastic “We want tacos” chant went up from a small group of irritated Lakers fans. There would be no fast-food giveaway Friday night.
“It’s not the seventh game of any series. We just lost, got beat,” said forward Lamar Odom, who had 10 points and seven assists, as well as five turnovers. “We have to expect teams to want to be on their ‘A’ game, especially when we’re here. They’re not going to just lay down. Teams are not going to be submissive when they play against us. We have to understand that.”
Shannon Brown had 10 points in the second quarter, giving the Lakers a boost. He also had a follow-up dunk off Bryant’s miss to bring the Lakers to within 78-66 with 9:39 left.
Other than Brown’s 12 points, not much went well for the home team, the Lakers playing another game without Pau Gasol (strained right hamstring).
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Bryant said. “Obviously we miss him.”
Before the game, Jackson swatted down the concept of a 73-win season, as he had throughout this month whenever the question arose.
“Looking at the overall season is not the goal,” he said. “If the last week of the season, we have a crack at winning five out of the next six games or whatever, and 72 is in the [perimeter] out there somewhere, on the edge, yeah, we’ll go for it. But not at this time.”
Probably not any time this season.