Madison Square Garden
Wednesday, February 22,2012
The date was May 8, 2011, and it was Game Four of the Western Conference semifinals. The Lakers entered the playoffs as the huge favorites in the West to reach their fourth-straight NBA Finals—but they were pushed by the New Orleans Hornets and Chris Paul in the first round. Still, not many gave the Mavericks much of a chance in the semis.
By now we all know what happened, as the Mavs finished their stunning sweep on the afternoon of May 8, a 122-86 embarrassment—sending Lakers coach Phil Jackson off to Montana (or wherever the Zen Master is nowadays).
It was the largest margin of a victory in a game that ended a four-game playoff sweep in NBA history. Dallas would go on to upset the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, while the Lakers started asking questions that still haven’t been answered this season.
Los Angeles knew it needed to get some offseason help to get through the West and figured it had the answer in landing Chris Paul—for about 30 minutes—until NBA Commissioner David Stern put the kibosh on the deal.
Then the Lakers shockingly traded star sixth-man Lamar Odom to the Mavericks for essentially a trade exception, something the team still hasn’t used. Clearly the Lakers (19-13) remain flawed, and this week Kobe Bryant vented about whether the team would trade Pau Gasol or not (he was in the Paul three-way trade). Kobe’s point: Either do something now or say Gasol is staying put.
This is the start of an incredibly tough back-to-back as L.A. visits Oklahoma City on Thursday night in the teams’ last game before the All-Star break.
Think there will be any Dwight Howard-to-L.A. rumors at All-Star Weekend in Orlando?
This is the Mavs’ final game before the break.