Thursday, March 22, 2012
3-pointer: Kobe Bryant soars sans Shawn Marion
By Tim MacMahon and Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- Shawn Marion tried to talk his way onto the court against the Lakers. He failed.
Jason Kidd tried to defend Kobe Bryant. He failed.
Bryant scored 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting in the Lakers’ 109-93 win Wednesday night. The Lakers also won the previous two meetings with the Mavs this season, but not because of Bryant’s brilliance. The NBA’s scoring leader totaled only 29 points on 11-of-37 shooting in the two games when Marion guarded him.
"In terms of our individual matchup, I mean he’s obviously a long defender, he’s quick,” said Bryant, who mentioned that the Suns started to go down the day they traded Marion. “It’s a lot harder scoring on him than it is on [Rodrigue] Beaubois or something like that. Still, in all, I’ve given Marion fits in Phoenix, but he does a great job here with the system they have defensively. They’re a much, much better team when he’s on the floor.”
Beaubois took his turns trying to defend Kobe, who was primarily Kidd’s assignment a couple of days before the point guard’s 39th birthday.
The Mavs had success with Kidd defending Bryant down the stretch of games during last season’s West semifinals sweep. However, it isn’t a strategy they’d ever plan to use on a regular basis in ideal circumstances.
“We get away with playing spot minutes on him, like we did last year in the playoffs, but not for 30 minutes,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “That’s when Kobe gets to his spots and he can just elevate over Kidd. Once Kidd doesn’t get the swipe-down and [Bryant] gets to his areas, I don’t think there’s anything that J can do. So we definitely missed Trix on him.”
Added Kidd: “No matter how long you’re on him, he’s going to make shots. I’ve been on him close enough where he still makes them. I mean, that’s what he does, so that’s what makes him a great player. You just try to make it tough on him.”
Marion has lobbied to play before each of the last three games, but coach Rick Carlisle and athletic trainer Casey Smith have opted to exercise caution while the Mavs’ best defender deals with soreness in his left knee.
Marion has had as much success as anyone in the NBA as a Kobe stopper this season. However, Carlisle said it wasn’t a difficult decision to sit him with the Lakers in town even though it was expected that the Mavs would miss Marion.
“He had not been on the court for five or six days,” Carlisle said. “So in looking at his situation, how fair is it to just throw him out there against Kobe Bryant?”
It wasn’t fair to throw Kidd out there against Kobe either, but the Mavs didn’t have much choice.
A few more notes after the Mavs’ four-game win streak was snapped:
1. Roddy ready for big time?: Rodrigue Beaubois had a nice little run over the last four games, but that came to an end Wednesday against the Lakers. The third-year guard scored six points on 3-of-12 shooting and he missed all four his 3-point attempts. Against a stingy L.A. defense, Beaubois didn't seem to play with the same confidence he had in previous games against the Spurs and Nuggets.
2. Tough cover for Dirk Nowitzki: Dirk badly outplayed Pau Gasol in last season’s playoff sweep, but Gasol has proven to a difficult matchup in three games this season. While Nowitzki scored 26 points on 10-of-24 shooting in Wednesday's loss, Gasol put up 27 points on 13-of-16 shooting against his 7-foot counterpart. In the three games, Gasol is averaging 20.0 points on 60 percent shooting and 8.0 rebounds.
3. Where's the D?: The Lakers' 109 points marked just the ninth time this season that the Mavs have allowed triple digits in 48 games. However, it is the third time in the last seven games and in those seven games Dallas has given up an average of 102.6 points a game, including scores of 110 and 111 to Sacramento and Golden State. Entering Wednesday's game against L.A., the Mavs still ranked sixth in the league in scoring defense at 92.7 points a game, but they have not allowed fewer than 95 points during the seven-game stretch, one reason that Dallas is just 4-3 in those games and 6-8 since the All-Star break.