DALLAS – What did the Mavericks learn from their last trip to Los Angeles?
“We’ve just got to keep our composure, especially at their place,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “That’s really it.”
That definitely didn’t happen in the lopsided loss to the Lakers at the end of March. The Lakers were in the process of putting away the Mavs early in the fourth quarter when Jason Terry melted down, shoving Steve Blake in the back to spark a brouhaha that resulted in four players being ejected.
In Terry’s defense, he had attended his aunt’s funeral two days earlier. That trip was the beginning of an extremely difficult time in Terry’s personal life, resulting in a run of bizarre behavior.
Entering the playoffs, Terry said he was in a good place spiritually. He followed that up with his best postseason series since the 2006 Finals run, averaging 17.3 points on 49 percent shooting and playing hard defensively against the bigger Blazers guards.
Terry can’t afford to let the Lakers get to him emotionally. And that will be quite a challenge, considering the mutual hatred he has with Matt Barnes, whom Terry referred to as “The Charminator” the day after they were both ejected. Barnes, a professional antagonist, responded with a pretty good Twitter rant about how his 2007 Warriors showed the world how to beat the Mavs.
"PUNK'EM," Barnes wrote.
Dirk’s message to his Mavs teammates: Don’t let LA punk us.
“We’ve just got to stay calm,” Nowitzki said. “They’re going to play us physical. Just try to work. We’ve got to stay together, especially on the road. There will always be some adversity in a playoff game, especially on the road, and we’ve got to stick together. We can’t lose our composure like we did the last game in the regular season there.”