Jackson leaving on low note as Lakers swept away

By Jaime Aron

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 9 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson leaves the floor after his team lost 122-86 to the Dallas Mavericks at Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks swept the series.

Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

DALLAS — 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.

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