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Lakers 110, Mavericks 82: Hell Breaks Loose

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Pity Derrick Caracter. This week the young rookie got sent down to join the Lakers' D-League affiliate in Bakersfield, a horrifying destination under any circumstances. To make matters worse, the assignment came just in time for him to miss the champs' most entertaining victory of the season, a 110 to 82 destruction of the Dallas Mavericks. Poor DC was forced to skip some of the most deranged goings-on seen at Staples Center in quite some time. That's the bad news. The good news is, one or two Lakers could soon be advised by the league office that it's time for them to take a little unpaid vacation, in which case Caracter's stay in Bakersfield won't be a long one.

Let's put it this way: in the fourth quarter this evening, Theo Ratliff, who hadn't appeared in a game since early November, got pulled off the bench, at the behest of Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, to shoot a pair of free throws, and that was maybe the eighth-weirdest thing that happened tonight.

Higher up on the weirdness rankings are:

  • Little Steve Blake rolling up hard on little Jason Terry after the JET hit him with a shooting foul and then a cheap-shot push in quick succession, a fourth-quarter incident that led to a flagrant foul on Terry and the ejection of both players (and thus the insertion of Ratliff to shoot, and miss, the two freebies),
  • Matt Barnes charging into the scrum in a blaze of righteous anger, after which Mavs assistant coach Terry Stott tried restraining him from behind, to which Barnes reacted by shoving Stott to the ground, then getting ejected and leaving the court shirtless,
  • Brendan Haywood also getting sent off for... I don't know, something I missed amid the other chaos,
  • Shannon Brown becoming the fifth player to be ejected late in the fourth, when he stood up for Pau Gasol after the latter got clobbered by Brian Cardinal in garbage time, and
  • Mike Fratello attempting to argue, apparently with a straight face, that Glen Davis should win Sixth Man of the Year over Lamar Odom. Seriously, this happened.

And I haven't even mentioned yet the strangest moment of the night. That would be when a bottomless woman came bombing down a staircase in the lower Staples bowl in an attempt to charge the court, only to fall victim to a pretty sweet open-field tackle by a security guard. Kevin Ding immortalized this bizarre sequence on Twitter:

Official Staples Center tally: 3 fans ejected, including nearly naked gal. Conflicting reports about whether there was a G-string.

Oh, so that's where your mom was tonight. (*collects high-fives for sweet burn*)

So yeah: just your typically boring, regular-season game in late March. I suppose we should talk a little about how the teams actually played. Basically, the Lakers treated the Mavs like a sledgehammer treats cheap, rotted-out drywall.

The champs crushed and killed on both ends of the floor. It was a close game for a half, but in the third period the Lakers' advantages in size and physicality began to wear on the Mavs. Andrew Bynum, who finished with 18 points, 13 boards and three blocks, started tossing dudes aside like a defensive tackle. Kobe Bryant, who scored a game-high 28 points, worked effectively in the midrange against the smaller Mavs guards. And Odom delivered the killshot with a brilliant stretch starting at the end of the period.

With 13 seconds left in the third and the Lakers up nine, Lamar hit a three-pointer off a Bynum kick-out. On the first possession of the fourth quarter, he hit another three. Then, after a Dirk Nowitzki turnover, he hit another three. Two trips later, he ripped down a defensive board, drove coast to coast and dropped in a lay-up for his 11th straight point, which pushed the Laker lead up to 20. Game over. Sixth Man of the Year race over. At least, it damn well better be. If Lamar doesn't win the award, they should honestly just stop giving it out, because clearly voters are incapable of making the right decision even when it's screamingly obvious.

Lamar finished with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting, 11 rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers. Jason Terry scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting.

You do have to cut the Mavs a little slack, as they had to play last night against the Clippers and were at a disadvantage in terms of rest. But that doesn't begin to account for the display of cruelty and domination the Lakers put on. The champs scored 1.21 points per trip and allowed the Mavs just 0.89. The second half was a defensive tour de force. In the third and fourth quarters, Dallas scored only 31 points total, averaging out to 0.67 per possession. After collecting six second-chance points in the first quarter, the Mavs scored only four the rest of the game and none in the second half. Bynum had nine defensive boards in the second half alone.

Right now the Lakers are on a truly epic rampage. They're 16-1 since the All-Star break, and a lot of those wins haven't been especially close. Tonight they assumed the inside track for second seed in the West and moved a little closer to the San Antonio Spurs in the race for best overall record. Having lost at home tonight to the Celtics, their fifth straight defeat, the Spurs now lead the purp and yellow by just 2½ games. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

We'll have to see what kind of fines and suspensions come down in the next day or two. It would be a shame if Blake and Barnes had to miss time, since they both played well tonight. Blake didn't shoot well but was surprisingly effective guarding Terry, and Barnes provided his usual dose of toughness and energy. Perhaps the league will show mercy on the grounds that both players were responding to clear provocations. Blake was reacting to the Terry cheap shot, and Barnes to Stott's weirdly persistent attempts to wrap him up when Matt was trying to walk away.

Anyhow, the team flies to Utah tonight to face the Jazz on Friday. Hopefully, everybody at EnergySolutions Arena will remember to keep their pants on.











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Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

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