The Los Angeles Lakers were chasing a historic NBA Championship three—peat, but the Dallas Mavericks shot them down in a record—setting way in coach Phil Jackson’s final game.
Jason Terry exploded for 32 points, hitting a playoff record—tying nine three—pointers, as the Mavericks crushed the shell—shocked Lakers 122—86 Sunday to complete a stunning four—game sweep in their Western Conference semifinals playoff series.
“We knocked off the champs,” said super—sub Terry, who made 11—of—14 field goals and nine—of—10 threes in 25 minutes. “I’m thankful I had the hot hand tonight.
“We’re out of the second round, and we’re in the conference finals, but our work is not done. There’s more to come.” Third—seeded Dallas will have a week off before hosting either Oklahoma City or Memphis next Sunday in their first conference finals since 2006. The Grizzlies lead Oklahoma City in their series 2—1.
“We’re halfway to where we want to be,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle after his club matched a post—season record, burying an amazing 20 of 32 from beyond the arc. “We’ll be satisfied when we get the ring.” JJ Barea scored a playoff career—high 22 points, and fellow reserve Peja Stojakovic added 21, making all six of his threes for Dallas, which shot 60 per cent from the field and received a whopping 86 points off the bench. German juggernaut Dirk Nowitzki finished with 17 points.
“We knew we had a good bench,” Barea said. “We really came out with a lot of energy. We were more aggressive, and it worked out for us.” Kobe Bryant scored 17 points and reserve Shannon Brown added 15 for the second—seeded Lakers, who were seeking to become just the sixth team in NBA history to win three—consecutive titles. Instead, they were swept for the first time since 1999.
“The thrill of trying to chase a three—peat is always an exciting thing, and I knew it was a big challenge for this team,” Jackson said. “It puts a lot of strain on a basketball team. It was a challenge bigger than we could meet.” Afterward, the 65—year—old Hall of Fame coach with a record 11 NBA Championship rings, confirmed the game was his last.
“This is all my hopes and aspirations that this is the final game I will coach,” Jackson said. “It’s been a wonderful run.” On the brink of elimination, the Lakers were looking to make history of another kind, becoming the first team (0—98) to win a series after falling into a 3—0 hole.
The Mavericks, however, wouldn’t allow it. They outscored their guests 36—16 in the decisive second quarter behind seven three—pointers, including five by Terry, for a commanding 63—39 halftime cushion.
“They jumped on us in the second quarter,” Bryant said. “They hit three after three after three, and we couldn’t get back into it.” The onslaught continued. Terry nailed three more triples and the lead ballooned to 86—62 as the Mavs were humiliating the champs in front of a cheering sold—out crowd at the American Airlines Centre.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lakers lost their cool as the frustrated 7—footers (2.13—metre) Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were ejected 45 seconds apart.
Odom was tossed for lowering his shoulder into Nowitzki and knocking him to the floor. Bynum, meanwhile, sent the 1.83—metre Barea sprawling to the ground with an intentional elbow to the rib cage while in the air on an easy drive to the basket.
“I think it was more we were getting embarrassed,” Bynum said.
“They were breaking us down, so I fouled somebody.” When the smoke had cleared, the Mavs had sent Jackson into retirement and the Lakers to their second worst playoff loss since a 39—point thrashing to the Boston Celtics in close—out game six of the 2008 NBA Finals.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a team play to that level in a series in a game like they played this afternoon,” Jackson said. “You’d like to have an opportunity to challenge, but we didn’t.” We ran into a buzz saw.” Elsewhere: Atlanta 100, Chicago 88 Josh Smith had 23 points with 16 rebounds and eight assists, and the Hawks closed on a 16—4 run to square their Eastern Conference semifinals at 2—2 against the top—seeded Bulls.
“Our backs were against the wall and we didn’t want to go back to Chicago trailing 3—1,” Smith said. “We wanted to give ourselves a chance to win this series.” Chicago hosts swing game five Tuesday night.
Joe Johnson scored 24, and Al Horford added 20 for fifth—seeded Atlanta, which outscored its visitors 33—19 in the final frame to rebound from a miserable game—three 99—82 shellacking Friday night.
“Our guys played with a sense of desperation,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “We really matched their energy and intensity at both ends of the floor.” League most valuable player Derrick Rose scored 34 points but shot just 12 of 32 from the field for the Bulls, who received 18 from Carlos Boozer.
“It was a tough game but no excuses,” Rose said. “Put this game on me. Two turnovers at the end of the game. Now, it’s the best—of— three—series with the first to four.”
Keywords: NBA playoffs