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Thursday, May 5, 2011
Super boost comes from smallest player




LOS  ANGELES -- On a floor full of superstars and All-Stars, J.J. Barea stole the show in the fourth quarter and sealed the Mavericks' Game 2 victory with an array of drives and stellar finishes.

He outscored Kobe Bryant, 8-5, in the final quarter and out-assisted Jason Kidd. He took more free throws than Dirk Nowitzki and even added a rebound. For the game he had 12 points to lead the Mavs' bench and four assists.

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Mavericks G J.J. Barea talks about taking a 2-0 series lead against the Lakers, Ron Artest's ejection and more.

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"Really, I don't think they had him on the scouting report there in the fourth," Nowitzki said. "He kept attacking off the pick-and-roll. We had good ball movement and that means they have to constantly close out and J.J. was able to attack their bigs off the dribble off the screen-and-roll and got to the basket a couple of times. He was spectacular and really won us the game in the fourth."

Barea, listed at 6-foot, but honestly a couple 0f inches shorter, shredded Lakers guards Steve Blake and Shannon Brown.

With the Mavs starting the fourth quarter leading 68-62, Barea blasted through the lane, missed the layup, but his penetration left Brendan Haywood clear for the tip in, 70-62. Barea busted through the paint again and kicked out to a wide-open Jason Terry, who buried a 3-pointer, 73-64. And then Barea did it again and drew the foul. He knocked down both free throws and it was 75-65 with 9:46 to play.

Still in the game nearing the midway point of the quarter,  Barea drove, the defense collapsed and he hit a wide-open Haywood on the baseline for a rare tomahawk jam from the big fellow, 79-69.

"The smallest man on the court probably has the biggest heart on the court," Haywood said. "He's not afraid to take it into the giants."

On yet another drive, Barea again found Haywood, who dropped it back to Jason Kidd, who buried the 3, 82-69.

And then came the dagger. Barea whirred past Brown and found himself virtually alone in the paint and he finished it off with a finger roll, 84-69 with 4:39 to go.

"That's how I play. I love to attack the paint," Barea said. "I got all the shooters out there and I've got two big guys setting great screens for me."

Barea's razzle-dazzle finally popped the Lakers' top in the final 30 seconds when Lamar Odom and Ron Artest were all over him in the backcourt. Odom fouled Barea and then Artest stuck out his arm and clotheslined Barea across the face, drawing a technical foul -- his second of the game -- and a possible suspension for Game 3.

Barea didn't have a good first-round series driving into Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge. He averaged 5.2 points and shot 32.4 percent. In two games against the Lakers he's averaging 10.o points and dropping shots at 46.7 percent. It helps when most are coming from 3-feet and in.

"I came out with a lot energy. I knew we needed it," Barea said. "We did a great job defensively all game, so I think a little spark by me helped us get the win."