For Game 2 for the Lakers, it boils down to Dirk Nowitzki and the bench
The Lakers blew a 16-point lead and lost Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals and home-court advantage to the Dallas Mavericks.
So how will the Lakers respond in Game 2 on Wednesday night at Staples Center?
“Sometimes it’s good to have a short-term memory,” Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons said after practice Tuesday. “Put that disappointment out of your mind and you’ve got to come to play Wednesday night at 7:30 and you’ve got to crank it up all over again.”
Interestingly enough, Cleamons said, the Lakers had some good stats in Game 1.
Dallas shot better (49.4%) from the field than the Lakers (42.9%), but the Lakers had more points in the paint (46 to 36), more second-chance points (12-5), more rebounds (44-40) and were tied in fast-break points (15).
“Statistically, we did better than they did,” Cleamons said. “But sometimes stats don’t tell the whole truth.”
Cleamons is in charge of the Lakers’ game plan for this series, and he has outlined a few things the Lakers must do better.
In the first round against the New Orleans Hornets, the Lakers had little success with the Hornets’ All-Star guard Chris Paul.
Now the Lakers have to contend with the Mavericks’ 7-foot All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, and they didn’t have much success with him either in Game 1.
“He’s been doing this for 13 years now and if people haven’t figured out a way to stop him, I don’t think we’re going to figure it out in the next two weeks,” Cleamons said, laughing.
The Mavericks move Nowitzki all over the floor on offense so he can operate with an eye toward the defense and where his teammates are. “We’re just going to try and be more active with him,” Cleamons said.
Cleamons said the Lakers knew the Mavericks wouldn’t give in despite being down by double-digits.
“You better have a better respect of your opponent because they didn’t quit,” Cleamons said.
Slowing the Mavericks bench
Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle made smart use of his deep roster and gave 10 players significant playing time in Game 1 as Dallas’ reserves outscored the Lakers’ bench, 40 to 25.
Cleamons said the Lakers can’t forget that Peja Stojakovic, Jose Barea and Corey Brewer are scoring threats; they combined to make five of nine three-pointers off the bench.
It’s imperative, Cleamons said, to be aware of them and Dallas’ other shooters such as Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Nowitzki. “You have to … know their tendencies and their traits,” Cleamons said.
Another goal, Cleamons said, is to put up a tougher defense on Dallas’ three-point shots.
The Mavericks had six players attempt three-pointers, and many times they were wide open. Overall, they were nine-for-20 from three-point range.
Cleamons said the Lakers must defend the lane for drives, but they also must have the “energy, desire and dedication” to rotate out to cover the Mavericks’ three-point shooters and “contest and challenge the shot.”
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