It's been three days since the Lakers lay down and invited the Mavericks to spend a Sunday afternoon kicking them in the face, and I can't say my bitterness has faded much. Two championships were needed to drain away the poisonous memories of Game Six in Boston. If the Lakers hold up their end of the bargain by winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, I'll be happy to forgive what happened in Dallas. Until then, I'm going to make myself feel better the way I always do: by assigning blame to other people for things that displease me.
After the cut, I've handed out postseason grades to every Laker who took the court in the first or second round. Devin Ebanks didn't play, so he gets an incomplete. Neither did Derrick Caracter, but for getting pinched by the New Orleans PD while "obviously drunk" at an IHOP, he earns an honorary F minus. Everyone else is listed in ascending order of minutes played.
To the report cards!
Theo Ratliff: You recall those 54 seconds Theo played in Game One against the Hornets? I sure don't. And that's pretty typical for Theo's Laker career as a whole, which I think we can assume is over. But the box score says he got a rebound and didn't commit a foul or turnover, so... good work? I guess? Grade: C.
Luke Walton: In the end, not even Phil Jackson could find something to like about Luke Walton's game. The new Adam Morrison got nine straight DNP-CD's, including the Ron Artest suspension game, before Phil tossed him into the fire with less than five minutes remaining in the season and the Lakers down 34. Luke proceeded to miss both of his shots and commit a pair of turnovers. But following in the footsteps of Theo Ratliff, he did collect a defensive board! Only two more years and $11.5 million left on Luke's contract, people. We'll get there someday. Grade: D-.
Joe Smith: In Game Three against the Mavs, Andrew Bynum picked up two first-quarter fouls, so Phil began the second period with Joe Smith on the floor. Whoever was announcing - can't remember who it was - tried to make the case that Joe was still valuable because he was the number one overall pick in the 1995 draft. Possibly he was being sarcastic. Anyhow, while Joe was in the game, the Mavs scored nine points on six possessions and made four baskets within 10 feet of the hoop. Grade: D.
Trey Johnson: The great Trey J never got the chance to dominate the opposition the way we know he can. Phil gave him just 12 minutes of burn scattered across three games. Had he been given 20 minutes a night, obviously we'd be prepping for a Western Conference Finals showdown against the Grizzlies or Thunder. Trey J made just 1 of 5 field-goal attempts, though his four rebounds are nice. Grade: C-.
Matt Barnes: Matt's playing time was cut back severely in the playoffs, to 13 minutes a game from 19 in the regular season. Part of that was Phil's effort to match up with small lineups the Mavs were using, but part of it was an understandable response to Barnes's poor play. The problem, as it's been for so much of Matt's career, is that he thinks of himself as a three-point shooter. He's not. He made 2 of 12 attempts from long distance in the playoffs and would be much better off if he'd focus on being a garbage man par excellence. On the positive side, he didn't get thrown out of any games. Grade: C-.
Steve Blake: It's hard to remember now, but Blake actually had a pretty strong series against the Hornets. He made 4 of 7 three-pointers, dished out 16 assists and committed only three turnovers. The Mavs, unfortunately, flame-grilled his ass. Blake was one of several perimeter defenders who were helpless to stop Barea's penetration, and his inability to make a three-point shot turned him into an offensive albatross. I'd give him a D- had he infected anyone with chickenpox. Since they didn't happen... Grade: C.
Shannon Brown: Shannon's been viciously flayed for his postseason performance, but I actually don't think he was that horrible. He took good care of the ball and was one of the team's more efficient scorers in the Dallas series. I get, though, that his dribble-dribble-dribble-jumpshot routine is torture to watch, and he really shouldn't have this much trouble figuring out when to go over and when to go under a screen. Grade: C.
Lamar Odom: After a regular season in which he finally shed his rep for flakiness, Lamar reverted to his classically Odomesque up-and-down form in the playoffs. He had a few games when he disappeared and a few when he was among the two or three most productive Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki lit up him, but I suspect he would've done the same to 100% of the human race. Although Lamar was rarely the Lakers' main problem, he likewise rarely looked a threat to swing a game in their favor. More was needed from him. Grade: B-.
Ron Artest: Against the Hornets, Ron gave the Lakers exactly what they needed. He played good D, did his part on the boards and knocked down open treys. Against the Mavs, Ron unraveled. His shooting touch abandoned him, and he scored a one-game suspension for clobbering Jose Barea at the end of Game Two. When he was on the court his defense on Shawn Marion was more or less up to snuff. Grade: B-.
Andrew Bynum: Oh, Drew. Everything was going so well! You were a monster in the New Orleans series and the one Laker Dallas didn't have an answer for. Oh so briefly, you managed to put our Dwight Howard fantasies to rest. We would've been eating out of your hand all offseason. But you just couldn't help yourself. In the fourth quarter of the final game of the year, you just couldn't tune out that little gremlin on your shoulder imploring you to do something pointless and nasty to Jose Barea. And now you're suspended for five games next season. You'd better not spend that time watching soccer. Grade: B.
Derek Fisher: The Lakers' last chance to do anything in the Mavs series arrived right after halftime of Game Four. The Mavs had a big lead but went into a bad offensive slump, scoring two points on the first 10 possessions. A Laker run could've brought them within striking distance. But in a span of four offensive trips, Derek Fisher missed two wide-open threes and a layup. Although it probably wouldn't have made a difference in the end, this was the first clutch situation in a while in which Fish didn't come through for the Lakers. It didn't help that he was no better than a traffic cone at preventing Barea and Jason Terry from dribbling into the lane whenever they fancied. Grade: C.
Kobe Bryant: This was a fairly solid postseason for El Kobester. His shooting was rough at times and he couldn't conjure any endgame magic, but there was otherwise a lot to admire. His conduct of the offense was generally measured and thoughtful. He did his part to get the big men their touches. His defense against Chris Paul in Game Two and dunktastic explosion in Game Five of that series were key inflection points. And alone among Lakers, he played with unflagging pride and professionalism. Grade: B+.
Pau Gasol: I don't envy Pau the coming offseason, which will overflow with heated public chatter about his interior life, but that's the downside of being a Laker star. You get to make $18 million and be a prince of the city, but you'd better come through on the court. Pau lived through this once in 2008 and acquitted himself well. I'm reasonably confident he can do so again. Still... he's in danger of becoming the West Coast Chris Bosh. Grade: C.
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.