Jackson Leaving on Low Note as Lakers Swept Away
Dallas (AP) - The fun is over for Phil Jackson and his five kids.
They've spent the last 20-plus years treating the NBA playoffs like a private party, according to their dad. So with Jackson retiring after this postseason, and with his Los Angeles Lakers on the brink of elimination, four of them flew to Dallas for Game 4 of a second-round series against the Mavericks.
Decked out in yellow hats with Roman numerals marking Jackson's 10th and 11th championships, hoping he could somehow pull out No. 12, they instead witnessed perhaps the worst game of his playoff career - an ugly blowout loss to the Mavericks, completing Dallas' sweep.
Jason Terry tied a playoff record with nine 3-pointers and the Mavs advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 122-86 victory Sunday that ended the Lakers' run toward a third straight NBA championship.
"It felt good tonight, but we know we're only halfway home," center Tyson Chandler said. "We've got eight wins, but we need eight more. That's our ultimate goal."
Jackson knows that better than anyone.
A Hall of Famer since 2007, he leaves with a record 11 titles, and only 10 series losses. Take away Red Auerbach, who won nine championships, and Jackson won more titles than any two coaches combined. He won six championships with Michael Jordan, three with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, and the last two with Bryant leading the way.
The 65-year-old Zen Master had to be talked into coming back this year. He was lured by the chase for a 12th title, bundled neatly as four three-peats, but he knew it would be tough with a team worn down by three straight years of playing into mid-June.
"(That) puts a lot of strain on the basketball club from all angles: personalities, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and getting charged up for game after game and assault after assault when you go in and play a team," Jackson said. "It was a challenge bigger than we could beat this year."
Jackson has retired before, only to come back. This time, he said he means it.
"In all my hopes and aspirations, this is the final game that I'll coach," he said. "It's been a wonderful run."
Assistant Brian Shaw, a former Lakers player, is considered a front-runner to take over. The bigger decisions for general manager Mitch Kupchak will be how to surround Bryant. He may want a younger point guard than Derek Fisher, who turns 37 before next season, and he may consider breaking up his tandem of 7-footers, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
"We all know they always come back and get themselves back in the race," Jackson said. "The Lakers are going to survive."
And Jackson will be rooting them on.
"My companion and sweetheart is running the organization on the business side," he said, referring to Jeannie Buss, daughter of club owner Dr. Jerry Buss, "so I know I'll be involved somehow."
Jackson's departure will be felt hardest by Bryant.
"I grew up under him," Bryant said. "The way I approach things, the way I think about things - not only basketball, life in general - comes from him. It's a little weird for me to think of what next year is going to be like."
Dallas will host either Oklahoma City or Memphis in the conference finals. The Grizzlies lead the Thunder 2-1 going into Game 4 on Monday night. The next round likely won't start before next Sunday, a layoff that could pay huge dividends for a roster filled with players in their 30s.
Then again, the Mavs might want to keep playing the way they're going.
They tied a playoff record with 20 3-pointers, shooting 63 percent from behind the arc and 60 percent from the field (44 of 73) overall.
They extended a franchise record by winning their sixth straight playoff game, a streak that began right after they blew a 23-point lead in Game 4 of their first-round series against Portland.
While the crowd went bonkers all afternoon, they weren't doused in confetti at game's end. The organization held back to symbolize that this is only a step toward the bigger goal of winning its first title.
"I'm going to enjoy this for a day," Dirk Nowitzki said. "I think I'm gonna have some pizza and cheat on my diet."
Terry made 11 of 14 shots for 32 points. J.J. Barea set a career playoff-best with 22 points and Peja Stojakovic added 21 points. None of those guys start.
"We've been doing it by committee all year long," said Nowitzki, who scored 17 points, his fewest this postseason. "There are a lot of guys who can make plays and make shots when it counts."
The Lakers blew big, late leads in Games 1 and 3, and came in talking about cleaning up their fourth-quarter performance. They never got that far.
The second quarter proved to be one of the most spectacular in Mavericks history, thanks mostly to Terry.
He was 5 of 6 from behind the arc that period, and the team was 7 of 8 - despite Jackson's repeated demands that his players run at them to try forcing them to dribble up for 2-pointers instead of 3s. The Mavericks had a run of 13-2 early in the quarter and a 10-1 spurt at the end.
Bryant couldn't bail out the Lakers. He made only 1 of 5 shots in the period and had two turnovers. His only basket came after shoving Barea away from him; the pesky little point guard got even right away, driving straight to the rim for a layup.
Bryant finished 7 of 18 for 17 points. Gasol's lost postseason continued, too; he had 10 points and eight rebounds.
To make the loss even more embarrassing for the Lakers, Lamar Odom and Bynum were both ejected within a 45-second span of the fourth quarter for flagrant fouls.
NOTES: Teams trailing 0-3 are now 0-99 in NBA playoff history. The Lakers became the 60th to get swept. ... Before the game, Jackson was told the league was fining him $35,000 for comments he made Saturday that were critical of officials. "That's not fun having a feeling like I've been chased down the freeway by them," Jackson said. "But as Richard Nixon says, 'You won't be able to kick this guy around any more.'" ... The lopsided loss continued a trend for the Lakers. Although they'd won nine straight series, their previous eliminations were by 39, nine, 31 and 13 points. ... The 39-point loss - to Boston in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals - was the only bigger blowout loss than this for Jackson, Bryant and the entire Lakers franchise. ... Nowitzki improved to 8-0 in playoff games against Gasol.