The End of a Dynasty?

       The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were not only swept by the Dallas Mavericks, but they look like they need to re-tool and revamp their roster after the early exit.

        Kobe Bryant no longer looks like the league's best player that he headlined for so many years. He still reigns in the top ten, but falls behind the ranks of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul. The fading superstar ranks in line with the likes of upcomers Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose. Long gone are the days carrying a still-very-talented Lakers team by himself. His lawful sidekick, Pau Gasol, was outplayed, as were Lamar Odom and Ron Artest by the seriously underrated Nowitzki. In the series, the Dallas-forward averaged 25 points and 9 rebounds on 57.4 percent shooting. Gasol, on the other hand, just 12.5 points and 9 rebounds on 42.2 percent shooting from the floor.

        Los Angeles, a team once built for primetime in the clutch, was outscored 118-79 in the fourth quarter of the series, in large part due to the discrepancy of bench play and 3-point shooting. Even with counting Lamar Odom as a "bench player", the Lakers' bench was outscored 89 to 198 and was outshot 49 to 15 on 3-point makes, while Dallas knocked down 46 percent of their attempts to LA's 19 percent. Bryant, himself, knocked down five 3s, while his teammates made just 10-for-54.

        With Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson retiring; this may signal the end of an era for the Lakers' dynasty. They need to get more efficient and more aggressive play from Gasol and Andre Bynum and better perimeter shooting from all of the guards. Too often, the triangle-offense revolves around Bryant as an individual.

By President Corey Ruff - 5-9-11