Sunday, May 8, 2011
Updated: May 9, 8:57 AM ET
Lakers fouled out of embarrassment
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- The Los Angeles Lakers' frustration factor boiled over in a final two-prong meltdown with flagrant foul 2 calls dished out in a 45-second span of the fourth quarter.
With 9:06 to play in Game 4 and the Mavs up 94-68 on their way to the second-round sweep, Lamar Odom unloaded on Dirk Nowitzki well above the 3-point arc in what should have been a routine screen.
Three possessions later, 7-foot center Andrew Bynum delivered an intentional mid-air body slam to under-6-foot guard J.J. Barea, who repeatedly dogged the Lakers' defense with drives to the basket off multiple pick-and-rolls.
"They were disrespectful fouls, but it just showed their character," Mavs starting shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson said. "I think we kind of took their heart, especially winning on their court the first two games and then coming in here playing the way we are it made them frustrated. I don't think nobody ever played them like that. When people get frustrated people show their real character."
"You guys saw it. I bet they put like 10 replays on TV so it was a pretty good hit," Barea said. "I'm glad nothing really happened to me. I'm going to be a little sore tomorrow, but I'm just happy we got the win."
The smallest man on the floor somehow made the shot and came crashing down. He stayed on the court momentarily before getting up and, after an official timeout, returned and made the free throw.
Barea scored a career-playoff high 22 points as part of an 86-point effort from the Mavs' bench in the 122-86 demolition that ended the Lakers' quest for a three-peat.
Odom said he was a "little embarrassed" and Bynum said the Lakers getting embarrassed led to his action, which ended his season about eight minutes before his teammates.
"They were breaking us down," Bynum said. "So I just fouled somebody."
Bynum, who after Game 3 spoke of "trust issues" among the Lakers, walked off the American Airlines Center floor bare-chested after flinging off his jersey.
"It was unfortunate," said Mavs center Tyson Chandler, the team's enforcer, who was on the bench at the time of both flagrant fouls. "You hate to see that kind of stuff. It's one thing to play rough out there and play tough. I'm all for that, but the cheap shots are just uncalled for. We're all playing basketball. We're all doing something we love. I would think you would not want to see one of your fellow guys get hurt and that's how it happens."
The Mavs became the first team to sweep a Phil Jackson-coached team out of the playoffs and the first to sweep the Lakers since the San Antonio Spurs did it in 1999, which led the Lakers to hire Jackson.
Dallas won the first three games with dominant fourth quarters, but Mavs players said they could feel Game 4 slipping away from the Lakers in the second quarter when Dallas outscored Los Angeles, 36-16 on the strength of 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Mavs kept their cool after both fouls and managed to keep players on the bench from reacting and running onto the court, which is penalized by an automatic suspension for the next game.
Barea was also the victim of a flagrant foul in the waning seconds of Game 2 when Ron Artest reached out and grabbed Barea's face, earning Artest a one-game suspension for Game 3.
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.