7. May 2011 01:08
The Chicago Bulls broke serve in dominating fashion Friday night in Atlanta to regain control of their Eastern Conference second round series. The Dallas Mavericks stared adversity in the face, and made adversity blink as they took a commanding (and stunning!) 3-0 series lead over the two-tme defending champion Los Angeles Lakers...
CHICAGO 99, ATLANTA 82
2-point pct: Chicago 46%, Atlanta 50%
3-pointers: Chicago 10/20, Atlanta 1/6
Rebounds: Chicago 47, Atlanta 34
1's and 2's: Chicago 69, Atlanta 79
It's dangerous to draw too many statistical conclusions from a game that features garbage time for this long. Chicago went for the jugular offensively in the first half,with a strong inside/outside mix that basically had everyone scoring at will against a passive defense. Atlanta had few forced turnovers in the first half, few personal fouls called, and few signs that they were treating the game with a sense of urgency.
And, that happened right after Derrick Rose had been hearing for a couple of days that he wasn't being aggressive enough. EXPLOSION! Rose, even though he still wasn't back to lightning speed, just kept driving past Jeff Teague to find that nobody else on the Hawks was very interested in getting in his way. As this was happening Chicago jumped out to an advantage on treys too. They led by as many as eight in the first quarter, and extended the lead to 19 with 2:49 left in the second quarter.
Garbage time started then for all practical purproses. But it was a slow as molasses garbage time with Chicago running clock before shooting...and Atlanta content to play slowly themselves even though they were way behind. There were only 82 possessions in this game according to the expanded boxscore. That's extremely slow, particularly when one team is down by so much. Again, no sense of urgency.
So, the full game stats make it look like Chicago got outplayed inside the arc and won a blowout on treys. If the game was "race to 110" rather than "be ahead after 48 minutes while saving your energy for Sunday"...this probably would have been a boxscore rout in all areas.
Remember to make a mental adjustment for pace when evaluating the Chicago offense. The Bulls scored 99 points in 82 possessions for a stellar 120.7 efficiency rate. And, that's with a quiet 19-point fourth quarter when they were sitting on a lead. Early in the third quarter, John Hollinger of ESPN tweeted that Chicago had complied a 150.0 efficiency mark to that point. That probably best expresses the combination of Chicago's aggressiveness and Atlanta's passiveness.
I mentioned Rose still wasn't back to full speed. That might sound crazy given his career high 44 points! You could see this on defense though. He can't go well backwards yet, which is what happens as you're recovering from an ankle injury (unfortunately I have experience tearing ankle ligaments while playing basketball, then trying to come back to soon). Teague had 21 points with only 1 turnover himself. Rose can go forward adequately (but not at lightning speed yet). The side to side and backwards stuff will have to wait. But, if he's improving...maybe we'll start to see that in the next game. He's obviously already a dominating offensive force against the passive defense Atlanta put on the floor tonight.
Game Four is Sunday night on TNT. Atlanta has shown all season that they can bounce back from performance that lacked intensity. They won Game Six vs. Orlando after suffering a 25-point blowout in Game Five. That being said, tonight looked a lot more to the naked eye like the series most pundits were expecting before it began. Chicago's the better team. That's not going to change.
DALLAS 98, LA LAKERS 92
2-point pct: Lakers 52%, Dallas 50%
3-pointers: Lakers 3/13, Dallas 12/29
Rebounds: Lakers 37, Dallas 39
Turnovers: Lakers 10, Dallas 12
1's and 2's: Lakers 83, Dallas 62
Wow. The Lakers were up eight at 79-71 with 9:29 left in the game. They had shown up with a legacy to defend, and had dominated Dallas inside (for the night the Lakers would score 36 two-point baskets to just 19 for the Mavs). Crunch time. Kobe time. We've seen this movie before. Two minutes later, it was STILL 79-71. With 7:35 left, there was seemed to be a nervous sense in the arena that the series pendulum was about to swing toward Showtime.
THEN DALLAS WON THE REST OF THE GAME 27-13
That's 27 points in seven and a half minutes. At the heart of that fantastic finish were topics we've been discussing throughout the series:
*Dallas has so many three-point weapons that the Lakers just can't rotate to cover them all. Hitting treys down the stretch were Dirk Nowitzki, Peja Stojakovich (2), and Jason Terry. For the game, Dallas had a massive 12-3 edge from behind the arc, meaning 36-9 on the scoreboard. What had been an important edge in the first two games became a category blowout tonight.
*Dallas is getting more production and minutes off the bench, which was an even bigger factor tonight because of Ron Artest's absence. The Lakers starters, playing their third game in five days, ran out of gas defensively at just the wrong time. Remember that Stojakovich and Terry are bench players for Dallas. Dallas won bench scoring 42-15.
*Kobe Bryant still can't get to the basket (as you can see in the expanded boxscore). He was 1 of 2 tonight at the rim, and 1 of 2 from 3-9 feet. Those are both below regular season norms. And, when something important is on the line, Kobe tends to soar past regular season norms. For the series he's 1 of 3 at the rim (6.9 of 10.5 wold be normal for three games), and 2 of 5 from 3-9 feet (4.5 of 9.3 would be normal for three games).
It was a late finish, so we'll save expanded analysis for another time (if it's needed). Game Four will be Sunday afternoon on ABC. Ron Artest will be back in the lineup and extremely energetic. Will that be enough to help cover the arc for 48 full minutes? Is Kobe getting to the rim just not going to be a part of the series this year? We'll see what happens Sunday afternoon, then talk about it here Sunday night.
Back late Saturday to crunch the numbers from Oklahoma City/Memphis and Miami/Boston. See you then...