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Fan reaction: Are the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers done for good?
Not only are the Los Angeles Lakers' title hopes slipping away as they head to Texas in hopes of holding off a sweep by the Dallas Mavericks, there's a realistic chance Los Angeles' run as a team is over for good; at least the team led by Kobe Bryant(notes).
As the Associated Press' Sports Writer Jaime Aron points out, the Lakers' mental edge is gone, and that may have been the only thing propping this very flawed Los Angeles team up.
Entering the playoffs many of Los Angeles' fans seemed intent on ignoring those flaws, especially those in the media and among the so-called "experts" at ESPN and other sports outlets. They ignored them as if they didn't even exists, insisting this Lakers team was just as lethal and championship-ready as any in the past.
There was no talk of how poorly the Lakers bench has played this year. There was no discussion of how un-clutch Kobe has seemed at times. There was only talk about how history was likely to repeat itself.
If there's one thing everyone should learn from history, it's that all things change, and every era ends. I'm here to say, it's very likely the Kobe Bryant era of the Los Angeles Lakers has come to an end; at least the era where he's winning titles.
It was just a little over a month ago the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers seemed on top of the world, and people were talking about them as if they were going to be a shoe-in for another three-peat.
They'd just notched their ninth-straight win—defeating the Jazz 96-85 on Friday, April 1 to eliminate Utah from playoff contention—were on a 17-of-18 winning streak since the All-Star break to pull within a game-and-a-half of the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs, and practically looked unbeatable.
Fast forward to today, and the Lakers not only look beatable, they're being beaten; beaten down by a Mavericks team on their own homecourt in the first two games of their best-of-seven second-round matchup with Dallas to fall behind 0-2 in the series.
Considering the Miami Heat, on the other hand, are decisively proving they might just be on the verge of becoming a dynastic power in the East by manhandling the Boston Celtics in the first two games of their best-of-seven matchup, and I'd say there's ample evidence the time when you could almost just pencil Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in for another title is over.
For one thing, the Western Conference itself looks like it's caught up to the Lakers, with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies looking as if they could be battling it out for conference supremacy in the future (along with Denver, Portland, and New Orleans), and the Dallas Mavericks looking like they're the present big boys in the West.
Then there's the fact that even if the Lakers can somehow come back this year, or return to the playoffs and NBA Finals next year, they might just be facing a Miami Heat team that clearly looks superior to the vaunted franchise from the City of Angels.
After all, the Heat beat the Lakers twice in the regular season, blowing them out 96-80 in the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2010, and then handling them again in Miami in a 94-88 victory on Thursday, Mar. 10, as Dwyane Wade(notes) came up huge in the fourth quarter; a period formerly owned by Bryant.
I won't say it's an absolute fact Los Angeles isn't going to come back in their series with Dallas, but it's a pretty good bet. Only six percent of all teams facing an 0-2 series deficit have ever come back to win a best-of-seven matchup, and the percentage is even lower if those two losses were on the team's homecourt.
That pretty much means, as Charles Barkley stated on TNT's presentation after the Mavericks took out the Lakers 93-81 on Wednesday, May 4, "The Lakers are done!"
While Barkley was only referring to this year, I'd be willing to proclaim they're done for good in the Kobe Bryant era.
All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Basketball-Reference.com and Yahoo! Sports.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports .
*Daniel Barber has been a fan of all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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