LOS ANGELES _ The Mavericks knew it would take a fight to
beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
Turns out even that wasn’t enough.
An emotional game turned confrontational in the fourth
quarter with both sides losing their cool. Only one side ended up losing the
game, and the Mavericks did that stunningly as they suffered a 110-82 smashing
from the Lakers, who showed why they are firmly retrenched as the favorite for
the NBA title by going 16-1 since the All-Star break.
The Mavericks had their five-game winning streak against
modest competition snapped in their most lopsided loss of the season. Their
other streak – defeats against Western Conference playoff teams –
reached seven in a row.
Jason Terry ignited a game-stopping fracas that ended with
four players getting ejected. He put a flagrant foul, penalty two, on LA guard
Steve Blake, who went sprawling to the floor after a drive to the basket. That
play started a final 9:23 in which there were commotions in the stands,
including a woman who reportedly was partially unclothed trying to make her way
to the Mavericks’ bench.
“It was a hard foul,’’ Terry said of his
play on Blake. “It’s been a long week for me. The emotions got the
best of me and I’ve already apologized to the team. You can’t let
that happen in big games. But the game was getting out of hand. So, things happen.’’
Terry attended the funeral of his aunt in Seattle on Monday
and the Mavericks are on their longest road trip of the season. The Lakers
represented the second game in a four-game, five-night stretch that continues
Saturday at Golden State.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming in here on a
back to back and they’ve been resting for four days,’’ Terry
said. “They played better than us. They outplayed us.’’
Asked if he thought the league would be investigating the
play with possible fines or suspension, Terry said: “In an 82-game
season, you’re bound to get thrown out of one of them. It wasn’t my
first ejection and probably won’t be my last. It’s not a
suspension. It was a flagrant foul, but there was no intention to hurt
After the play, players on the court engaged in some
pushing, with several satellite incidents popping up – although it
didn’t appear any punches were thrown or that players left the bench
area, which is an automatic suspension. Matt Barnes was the aggressor for
Golden State, trying to come to the aid of Blake.
During the brouhaha, Mavericks’ assistant Terry Stotts
had Barnes in a bear hug, but Barnes quickly escaped and knocked Stotts
backward into fans in the front row.
The dust-up started after the Mavericks had fallen behind by
20 points. Terry and Brendan Haywood were ejected, as were Blake and Barnes.
With under two minutes to go, LA’s Shannon Brown also was ejected for
mixing it up with Brian Cardinal.
Just before that, a woman who apparently thought the game
was clothing-optional allegedly tried to get to the Mavericks’ bench and
owner Mark Cuban.
It’s a certainty that the NBA will review all the
incidents, with fines or suspensions possible.
The drama in the fourth quarter proved the Mavericks still
have life. That was debatable up to that point as they were outscored 56-31 in
the second half.
It was a total meltdown after the Mavericks had stayed in
the shadow of the Lakers until after halftime. They could not match the
Lakers’ toughness after the break.
“You’re going to have games like
this,’’ Cuban said. “The Spurs lost by 30 (to Miami). Miami
lost by 30 (to the Spurs). It happened to these guys (the Lakers) who got
crushed at Cleveland. This was just a bad game and we couldn’t make a shot.
We couldn’t hit a shot and we were upset. What are you going to
As for possible league action against Terry, Cuban said:
“All he did was push. It happens every game.’’
The loss pushed the Mavericks two games behind the Lakers in
the race for the No. 2 overall seed. They also lose the tiebreaker, and now are
pretty much resigned to ending the regular season as the No. 3 seed.
The Lakers simply were more forceful, much as they were
earlier in March when they won in Dallas.
“We know teams respect our skill level and are going
to try to get physical with us,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said.
“We’ve been talking about this for the last two weeks. We’ve
been practicing scenarios where the game gets physical. It was a hotly
contested game. We’ll take the loss and get ready for the next one. It
was a physical game.’’