(Or, perhaps, "Terry Slingshoots Lakers Out of Playoffs")
I was conflicted about constructing the headline for this post with "Lakers" being the subject. Because Kobe Bryant and Co. surely weren't the dominant nouns in Dallas yesterday. The Purple and Gold were throttled by the Mavericks, who were wrapping up a 4-0 sweep of the Phil Jackson-coached two-time defending champs. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs were hungrier, deeper, classier and just flat-out better in every measurable way in Game 4.
Nevertheless, the story, at least for today, is about the Lakers. Just like, I'm going to guess, that the back pages of the sports section in Gath and various other districts in Philistine were about the fallen Goliath rather than the victorious David after that famous upset victory.
Admittedly, it's a bit of a stretch to portray any assemblage of athletes bound together by Mark Cuban's purse strings as an underdog. Yet, I don't know many folks that were tapping Dallas to outlast Portland let alone unleash their brooms (to borrow a phrase from Stephen A. Smith) on a team featuring a reality television personality Lamar Odom.
IIf we are going to cast Dirk in the role of David here, then I'm going to go ahead and select Jason Terry to play the part of the slingshot. Or maybe Dirk is the slingshot and Terry is the handful of stones that David brought into battle. Or maybe Terry is the slingshot and the nine three-point shots that he hit in Game 4 are the stones. Or maybe all of these things are not these things unless you are stoned.
Regardless, Terry played an inspired ballgame.
Below are the game situations for each of Terry's nine made three-point shots. The scores indicate the state of the game before each made three-point shot (with post-shot score in parentheses).
Terry 3-point field goal breaks tie puts Dallas ahead, 22-19. The Mavs never relinquish the lead. (22-19)
The opening score of the second period keeps late first quarter momentum rolling for Dallas, pushes lead to seven points, 30-23, to give Dallas just a bit of breathing room. 30-23)
With Lakers center Andrew Bynum scoring four quick points to hold the line for the visitors, Terry hits another three-point shot, pushing the lead to 10 points at 37-27. Traditionally time-out averse L.A. coach Phil Jackson use a full time-out to try to rally his troops. The American Airlines Center is hysterical. (37-27)
The Skeletal Steve Blake hit what seemed a pivotal three after the aforementioned timeout to raise the Lakers' flagging hopes. But less than a minute (and a J.J. Barea jumper) later, Terry knocks down another three to get the lead back into double digits. Another Lakers' run is snuffed before it can ignite. Phil Jackson calls a 20-second timeout. (42-30)
Buckets are traded between Terry's consecutive timeout-inducing three-point shots and this one as the margin maintains at a dozen, still the largest of the game thus far. Off a pass from Dirk, Terry shoots the Mavericks ahead by 15 points with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half. The rout is on. Shortly, Terry will assist on a Peja Stojakovic triple. The Lakers will take another full timeout. Rumors of their return to the court are highly exaggerated. (47-22)
After Peja briefly took control of the game from Terry, the Jet takes it back. Before this latest treble, he'd assisted on a bucket by Dirk and knocked down a two-pointer of his own. With just a tick past 30 seconds remaining in the half, Terry does his best to kill this game off before the intermission. (63-38)
After Ron Artest reels off an inspired 7-2 run to open the second half, Terry stops the run before it can get too. (68-46)
And, on Dallas' next offensive possession, Terry leaves no doubt that the second half will only include more of the same. The Lakers call a full-timeout. (71-46)
With the Mavs' lead living healthily above 20 points, this Terry three-pointer puts them on the short road to a 30-point bulge with less than three minutes to play in the third. (81-54)
Offense-first Jason Terry did not (need to) attempt a shot in the fourth quarter.
If Mike Woodson does get fired, then what?
13 hours ago