DALLAS – The Lakers have the Sixth Man of the Year. The Mavericks have by far the better bench.
That was proven beyond a reasonable doubt while Dallas built a 3-0 series lead over the two-time defending champion.
The Mavs have a 112-52 edge in bench scoring this series. Sure, that was padded when Ron Artest’s suspension resulted in Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom moving into the starting lineup for Game 3, but it was almost as lopsided during the two games in L.A.
“We’ve had guys who have answered the bell,” Mavs president Donnie Nelson said. “We have seven Tontos now instead of one. It’s a testament to guys in the locker room. It seems like it’s been somebody different [each game].”
In Game 1, Corey Brewer was the hero off the bench. He got in the game with the Mavs trailing by 16 in the third quarter. He sat back down eight minutes later after the Mavs had pulled within five. Brewer provided five points, a rebound, an assist, a steal and thousands of watts of energy.
In Game 2, it was J.J. Barea’s turn. He was the best player on the floor in the fourth quarter, when he scored eight of his 12 points and had half of his four assists while giving the Lakers fits with his penetration off the pick-and-roll.
In Game 3, former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry and ex-All-Star Peja Stojakovic were co-stars off the pine. Terry scored 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Stojakovic got red hot during the fourth quarter, when he scored 11 of his 15 points.
And Brendan Haywood has been the “unsung hero” all along, according to Nelson, who raved about the backup big man’s defensive effort in the paint throughout the playoffs and this series in particular.
“We need everybody,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re never for sure who’s going to score how many points. It’s just hard to say, but that’s what’s given us some success this year. We’re a true team because we really need each other.
“It’s how we’re constructed. We’ve got to maximize it the best we can.”
Mission accomplished so far this series.