After Game One, Kobe Bryant expressed legitimate concern about the Dallas Mavericks after a close loss at Staples Center.
This team can beat us, it's clear, Bryant said.
That was an unusual comment from Bryant, and perhaps served as a motivating factor for his team.
Too bad it didn't change anything, as the Lakers lost to Dallas in Game Two even worse than Game One.
A big reason for the loss was Dirk Nowitzki. As much as Bryant is considered a competitor, there can be no question that Nowitzki wants to win about as bad.
The Mavericks' big man has punished the Lakers with his outside shooting, and his runners, and the Lakers seem to have no answer.
Phil Jackson can put Lamar Odom or Pau Gasol, but it probably won't make a difference. Nowitzki is as good a shooter as there is in the NBA, and he's sick of his Mavericks' team not living up to expectations.
What's interesting about Game Three is Nowitzki has been in this place before. Up 2-0 to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals, the Mavericks lost four games in a row.
It was the only time Nowitzki went to the Finals, and to many critics, it appeared to be his last.
So now Nowitzki is in a similar situation. He has the defending champions with their backs up against the wall, and now is the time to close them out. But he needs help.
The Mavericks got help from an unlikely source: Juan Jose Barea. But will the diminutive point guards come back with a similar performance in Game Two?
As much as the Mavs can feel comfortable with their 2-0 lead, and their star scorer in Nowitzki, they know that Bryant is lurking with his scowl.
Bryant shot well in the first two games, but Dallas can expect him to be pumped up for Game Three. The Black Mamba knows his legacy, and the legacy of his coach, is on the line.
Bryant will have to put together a scoring run in the first half if the Lakers expect to hold off Dallas on their home court. The Mavs will be ready for a Laker run late in the game.
Bryant has other scoring options, but like Nowitzki, he trusts himself more than anyone else.
If this comes down to who wants it more, then the slight edge goes to Bryant.
But Nowitzki has been down this road before, and needs to avoid a repeat of the 2006 Finals.