Barea puts the game away in the 4th quarter. Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer

Mavs return home up 2-0

In a shocker, the Mavs continue to roll as they beat the Lakers 93-81 in Game 2 of their series.  I have to admit that the way this game went surprised even me.  I was fearful that the Mavs would have a complacent attitude going into Game 2, having already achieved a victory in Game 1.  I was also expecting to see the Lakers come roaring out, eager to even the series at one game apiece, while also seeking to avoid a 2-0 hole and having to go on the road.  My fears proved unfounded as the opposite took place.

The Mavs played loose and aggressively while the Lakers were lethargic and confused.  Dirk Nowitzki once again topped the 20-point mark, leading the Mavs with 24 points.  But it was J.J. Barea who really put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, driving the lane time and again, knocking down layups and adding assists.  Barea finished with 12 points and 4 assists on the night.

But perhaps the biggest news involving Barea was the cheap shot he received at the end of the game when Ron Artest elbowed him in the head, earning Artest an ejection.  Whether intentional or not, it was dumb.  The game was over and this lack of judgment will cost the Lakers Artest’s services in Game 3.  There is no question that the foul deserves a one-game suspension.  And that will not help the Lakers get back in this series, especially when defense has been such a weakness for the Lakers.

Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd also hit double-digits in points with 14 and 10 respectively.  The Mavs defense continues to be active and effective.  Kidd is going a great job when covering Kobe Bryant.  Dirk is giving Gasol all sorts of problems, forcing him out of his comfort zone. 

The Lakers didn’t help themselves, going 2-for-20 from beyond the arc and missing 9 free throws.  I am not sure what is wrong with the Lakers right now.  The Mavs are playing well and nothing should be taken away from their play.  They are earning these wins.  But the Lakers are playing uninspired basketball.  They are confused on defense, no one is stepping up to stop the basketball, and the players are taking shots after the game.  This is not what you would expect from the two-time defending champs.  If they do not play with more urgency and passion, and execute better on defense, the series may be over on Sunday. 

The Mavs need to continue to be aggressive on both ends of the court if they want to put this series out of reach tomorrow night.  My guess is that the Lakers are going to be playing with fire and intensity, knowing that this is unquestionable a must-win game for them.

Speaking of tomorrow night, I will be once again blogging during the game, sharing my thoughts and insights and cheering for a big win in Game 3.  Why not grab your favorite beverage, turn on the game and your computer and stop on over at the Smoking Cuban?

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki J.J. Barea Jason Kidd Shawn Marion

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