Lakers Roller Coaster Season Crashes In Dallas
May 9, 2011

All year long, the Los Angeles Lakers messed with us. The two-time defending champions, in a quest for a three-peat, began like they were on a mission. They won 13 of their first 15 games, and looked unbeatable. Yes, their schedule was front loaded with a lot of home games, but Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and company looked like the team to beat, even without their injured center Andrew Bynum.

But then the Lakers lost consecutive games to Utah, Indiana, Memphis, and Houston. Were there problems, or was it just a bump in the road? L.A. won eight of their next nine, upping their record to 21-7, and all seemed right in Lakerland again. For a little while.

On December 21, the Lakers lost at home to Milwaukee. Not a big deal at the time. Kobe and company weren't thinking about the Bucks. They were looking ahead to the much anticipated and overhyped Christmas day showdown at Staples Center with the Miami Heat. That game was never overhyped by the Lakers, though. Coach Phil Jackson, and all the players, said it was just another game. It turned out to be less than that. Miami won it easily, 96-80.

Three nights later in Texas, the Lakers were embarassed again. L.A., trying to prove the loss to the Heat was a fluke, fell to the Western Conference leading San Antonio Spurs 97-82. The talk among the fans and the media began to intensify. Can the Lakers really win it all?

The Lakers won nine of their next ten, but then lost to the Clippers. They limped into the All-Star break losing three straight on the road. They beat Boston and New York, but fell at Orlando, Charlotte, and Cleveland. Cleveland! The team the Lakers beat by 55 points at home a month earlier.

After the break, they messed with us again. They went 17-1, but their loss was at Miami. Then, the Lakers lost five in a row. They did win their final two, including at the Kings on April 13. That was the game that looked like the final NBA game ever in Sacramento, but to the Lakers, the overtime win gave them home court advantage over Dallas in the playoffs.

That advantage of course, didn't matter. After dropping the first game of the opening round series to New Orleans, the Lakers again bounced back and took the Hornets in six games.

Yes, all year long the Lakers messed with us. They'd win and we would think the three-peat was on. Then they'd go into a losing streak or get blown out against a top team, and we would wonder what was wrong. Apparently, even the Lakers didn't know. That is, until now.

There were several embarrassments during the season, and that's how they went out. The Lakers lost by 36 points Sunday at Dallas, and were swept in a playoff series for the first time since 1999. It was the first time since 1977 they were swept in a series where they had home court advantage. Coach Phil Jackson had never been swept 4-0 in his career, and now he's retiring. What a way to send him off! Adding to the embarrassment was a late hard foul by Lamar Odom against Dirk Nowitzki, and a cheap shot elbow thrown by Andrew Bynum into the chest of J.J. Berea—the littlest guy on the floor. Both Odom and Bynum were ejected, and probably will be suspended to start next year.

Ahhh, next year. Phil Jackson will likely be fishing in Montana, while the same questions will be asked about the Lakers all over again. You can't always win a championship, but let's just hope the 2011-12 Lakers aren't embarrassing.

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