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Bet on the NBAChanging of the guard; twilight of the idols – call if what you may, but this year's NBA Playoffs have been full of surprising series, and last night's games were no different.

With the Spurs eliminated and the Celtics looking old and tired compared to the Heat, the Lakers were supposed to be the one dynasty still standing. But this morning, it looks like Phil Jackson will be headed to early retirement as his former NBA championship franchise is back on the ascendant.

So let's start with that former Phil Jackson team, the Chicago Bulls. Although poor starts and ankle injuries have plagued the Bulls in the playoffs, last night they put on a return to form, and then some. MVP Derrick Rose put in a career-high 44 points against the Atlanta Hawks on the way to a 99-82 blowout win on the road. The Bulls had an amazing 18 offensive rebounds and made 10 of 20 three-pointers, while the Hawks were just 1 of 6.

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So the Bulls now lead the series 2-1 after losing the first game in Chicago. With the way the team is playing in this series, they may be able to close it out in five games. The Hawks looked demoralized and depressed last night as Chicago pounded the boards both on offense and defense and challenged every shot. The Bulls scored the first four points of the game and never looked back, as the Hawks were never on top through four quarters of play.

But on to Phil Jackson's current team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had a sizeable 8 point lead late in the game, but a fourth-quarter push by the Dallas Mavericks buried the defending champs. The Mavs came out on top 98-92, and made 12 of 29 three point shots. The Lakers had a decent shooting night at 47.6%, but made only 3 of 13 three pointers. A couple of turnover late in the fourth quarter essentially gave the game away to the Mavericks, who won at the free throw line.

Everyone knows the history of NBA teams never coming back from a 3-0 deficit, and it seems like the most the Lakers can do is drag the series out. But even postponing the inevitable for another game or two might be enough to spark a Lakers comeback. With Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, it is hard to count out the Lakers, who have beaten the Mavericks multiple times before during the regular season. But it is still doubtful they can win four in a row against this Dallas team.

 

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