Mavs’ haymakers KO Lakers’ reign

By Mike Monroe

DALLAS — The end of an era was sudden and painful for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Crushed by a fusillade of 3-pointers by Dallas Mavericks reserves Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic, the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers on Sunday suffered the second-worst playoff loss in their long history, a 122-86 humiliation that swept them out of the Western Conference semifinals.

As a result, the Mavericks are headed to the Western Conference finals for the fourth time in franchise history, and Lakers Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson is headed to retirement with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Jackson’s teams have won 11 NBA titles, but never in his 20 seasons on NBA benches had one of them been swept from a playoff series.

Before Jackson confirmed his intent to retire during his postgame remarks, he called the Mavericks’ performance the best game any team had ever played against one of his teams in a playoff situation.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team play to that level in a series in a game like they played this afternoon,” he said. “They were terrific.”

What the Mavericks did best was shoot from long range. Terry missed only one of the 10 3-pointers he launched and scored a game-high 32 points.

Recalling his 32-point performance that led the Mavericks to a Game 1 victory in the 2006 NBA Finals, Terry hedged about calling his uncanny shooting the best of his playoff life. He clearly understood its impact.

? “For the magnitude of this game, to close those guys out, yes, it was a great game,” he said, “so it goes down as one of them. And I’m very thankful that I had the hot hand tonight.”

Stojakovic, the veteran forward the Mavericks signed as a free agent after the Toronto Raptors released him in February, was even more accurate from 3-point range, making all six of his long-distance shots. He scored 21 points.

The Mavericks made 11 3-pointers in the first half, 20 for the game — both numbers matching single-game NBA playoff records.

Amazingly, Dallas’ season scoring leader Dirk Nowitzki attempted, and made, only one 3-pointer. For the first time in one of the Mavericks’ eight playoff victories this spring, he was not his team’s top scorer. He scored only 17 points, trailing Terry, Stojakovic and another reserve, point guard J.J. Barea, who finished with 22 points.

The Lakers had no answer for the Mavericks at either end of the court. Former NBA Most Valuable Player Kobe Bryant, a two-time Finals MVP, scored 13 first-quarter points but only four thereafter. He made six of his first eight shots, then missed nine of his next 10. The game’s most feared closer had only two points in the second half.

To Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, his team’s defensive excellence matched the 3-point shooting he called breathtaking.

“You hold this (Lakers) team under 40 percent, it means you’re moving your feet, you’re guarding, and you’re rebounding,” he said. “That fueled a lot of the good things that happened for us offensively.”

By game’s end, Jackson was embarrassed by the lack of composure of center Andrew Bynum and forward Lamar Odom. Both were thrown out of the game — Odom for committing a category-2 flagrant foul on Nowitzki; Bynum for a flagrant-2 on Barea, a foot shorter but far more impactful on a Mother’s Day afternoon.

“I wasn’t happy with the way our players exited the game, on Lamar’s and Andrew’s part,” Jackson said.

Jackson also accused some unnamed players of shrinking from the magnitude of the moment.

“Well, I felt there’s a couple of players who felt daunted by the energy of the game,” he said. “Their game was depressed. There were, personally, a couple of players who didn’t step into the performance that I’d like to see them step into.”

As a result, Jackson steps into retirement, an era ended with minimal resistance and maximum pain.

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