Embarrassing is too nice a word to describe the manner in which the Los Angeles Lakers unraveled while being swept out of the NBA playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks.

Despicable probably fits best as the Lakers gave a horrendous effort and displayed repulsive character in Sunday’s 122-86 loss to the Mavericks – a 36-point margin that wasn’t even that close. (stellar game
recap here – http://reviewjournal.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/nba-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NBA/results/2010-2011/recap819357.html)

This was the final game for Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the Hall of Famer is probably celebrating that the series is done with now and wasn’t prolonged for another few days. The sooner the exit, the better due to the uninspiring way Jackson’s team was playing.

Heading home to Montana and staring out at picturesque Flathead Lake is a much-better use of Jackson’s time. It’s also much more enjoyable than having to defend millionaire players in the media who are going through the motions when their backs are against the wall.

The Mavericks move on to the Western Conference finals after badly outplaying the Lakers in every facet. And surprisingly, Dallas possessed far greater desire than the two-time defending champions.

Hard to believe a team with the ultracompetitive Kobe Bryant could surrender in such a hideous fashion.

Even harder to comprehend is that the two-time defending champions acted like thugs in the fourth quarter.

In a 45-second span of the final quarter, both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were ejected for flagrant fouls. I guess the two Lakers figured they had no clue to how defend the Mavericks in the traditional manner and opted for gutter-like cheap shots.

Odom was ejected after pounding Dirk Nowitzki with his shoulder some 30 feet away from the basket. Bynum assured the “dirty player” tag will be part of his future label after delivering a cheap-shot elbow into the chest of J.J. Barea as the Mavericks guard was airborne and scoring another easy basket.

It’s never a good development when Ron Artest is only the third-dirtiest player on a team.

This type of behavior has never been part of the Lakers’ act while they were winning titles and it was good to see that former Los Angeles star Magic Johnson wasted no time criticizing the unprofessional behavior.

“That should never happen,” Johnson said on his television gig. “You have to show class when you win and you have to show class when you lose, and the Lakers did not show class in Game 4.”

This game was so one-sided that I had to laugh when ABC play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico said in the fourth quarter that the Lakers’ season was 30 minutes away from being over. By my count, it had already been over for 90 minutes.

The second half was a mere formality in which the Lakers showed up but did little else. The game got away in the second quarter when Dallas guard Jason Terry scored more points by himself (20) than the entire Lakers’ team (16).

Terry matched an NBA record with nine 3-point baskets while scoring 32 points and the Mavericks tied a postseason record with 20 3-pointers. Barea scored 22 points and Peja Stojakovic was 6-of-6 behind the arc en route to 21 points.

Dallas has a deeper team than the Lakers – reserves Terry, Barea and Stojakovic combined for 75 points in the finale – and will be favored to reach the NBA Finals regardless of whether it plays the Oklahoma City Thunder or Memphis Grizzlies in the conference finals.

No matter what happens to the Mavericks the rest of this postseason, Dallas’ second-round dominance of the Lakers will be remembered for quite some time. The Mavericks exposed the Lakers as poor losers while dismantling Los Angeles in a manner not seen since the San Antonio Spurs swept the Lakers in the second round of the 1999 playoffs.

When Jackson sits out in his expansive backyard on the west bank of Flathead Lake and reminisces about his career, he’ll surely reflect on those 11 NBA titles he’s won more often than the dubious final series of his coaching career.

As well as he should. The 2010-11 Los Angeles Lakers aren’t worth much of anybody’s time.

Yeah, despicable fits nicely. Sunday’s game was one hideous way to call it a season.


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