Question: Which team in Game Two of the Lakers-Mavericks series had more rebounds, blocks, steals, and also had less turnovers?
Answer: The Lakers, the team that lost.
In a baffling series, the Los Angeles Lakers are down 0-2 in the best-of-seven series with the Dallas Mavericks, and basically nobody expected this.
ESPN obviously didn't expect it. Of the 14 NBA experts at ESPN, all 14 picked the Lakers to win the series. Four of the 14 had the series going in five games.
Perhaps the Lakers and the experts should have taken a lesson from the San Antonio Spurs. Most analysts expected San Antonio to roll over the Memphis Grizzlies, but that certainly wasn't the case. Memphis has proven that they have some under-rated talent, and deserve more credit.
The Lakers were expected to get by the Mavericks because of the matchups. Dallas lacks a quick point guard, and doesn't have a dominating center. Also, the Mavericks don't have a lock-down defender to contain Kobe Bryant.
All of those facts are still in play, but it hasn't mattered. The Lakers can't contain Dirk Nowitzki, and Jose Juan Barea has given the Lakers fits.
But perhaps this an example of the Lakers beating themselves. Los Angeles shot two-of-20 from beyond the three-point arc, and the Lakers' bench hasn't lived up to expectations, particularly Steve Blake and Matt Barnes.
The Lakers also seem short on defensive rotations. When the Mavericks are on the perimeter, the Lakers seem to be confused by the defensive assignments.
Dallas, on the other hand, seems to be shedding the image of busts in the playoffs. The Mavs always seem to have a very determined regular season and then falter in the playoffs.
But that hasn't been the case in 2011. The Blazers gave Dallas a difficult series, but the Mavericks still prevailed. They seem to be more focused than they have been in years. Against the Lakers, their tough defense has frustrateed the Lakers.
Rick Carlisle deserves credit for changing the attitude of this Mavericks team.
Now it will be up to Phil Jackson to change the Lakers' attitude. A team that desperately needed a win in Game Two, didn't get it.
What does that say for Game Three?