The Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Dallas Mavericks 110-82 on Thursday, and the statement referenced in the headline is a simple one: "Challengers, stand down." Dallas has been clawing for the No.2 spot held by the Lakers since Dirk Nowitzki returned from injury; that quest met a brutal end in the Mavs' visit to L.A. Such a blowout actually makes the No. 2 seed irrelevant; it's central role is to provide home court advantage in a prospective second-round series between the Lakers and Mavs. Anyone think the champs need home court to beat Dallas after Thursday's game?
Kobe Bryant scored 28 points on 8-21 shooting; he got to the line 15 times, and did all of that in 30 minutes. Pau Gasol offered up 20 points on 7-14 shooting, and Andrew Bynum was strong with 18 points on 6-9 shooting and 13 rebounds. The Mavs, unfortunately, only pulled big output from Dirk Nowitzki; the German scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds; he shot 10-20 from the floor, and did best to keep pressure on the Lakers. But the rest of his Dallas team shot a pathetic 32 percent. Only Peja Stojakovic (13 on 4-10) and Jose Barea (10 on 4-8) hit double-digits. Co-star Jason Terry shot 2-9.
Despite the margin, there were some late fireworks as Terry shoved Steve Blake on a stumbling drive to the basket, earning the ire of the Lakers' reserve and, eventually, a response from noted hothead Matt Barnes. Barnes has always been an extremely emotional player, and unfortunately the Lakers have emboldened his unpredictable streak by referencing said emotional bent. If he thinks he brings value to the Lakers by being a hothead, he's going to be a hothead. So he's going to fly in out of nowhere to get a lick on Terry when things had already calmed down, and he's going to skirmish with Mavericks assistant Terry Stotts.
Barnes, Terry, Blake and Brendan Haywood were all ejected. Barnes is probably going to get an extra game off for his efforts, and don't be surprised if Haywood, who made contact with an official, sits too. Shannon Brown got ejected later on after a brief interlude with Brian Cardinal; he just felt that he had been missing out on the fun.