Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon contest at Dallas, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Mavericks: D. Collison, O.J. Mayo, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, B. James
5:54 L.A. came out strong in the first few minutes, building a 7-2 lead as Dwight Howard and Steve Nash scored at the rim, and Kobe Bryant drained a triple, but the Mavs controlled things from that point forward, using a 13-5 run to take a 15-12 lead into the first Mike D’Antoni time out. Part of L.A.’s problem was at the rim, Shawn Marion taking advantage of two early fouls that sidelined Howard. Meanwhile, Bryant picked up his 13th technical foul of the season, which leads the NBA. Guys have to sit out a game upon reaching 16 T’s.
1:00 Antawn Jamison has been terrific on offense for the Lakers in the past few weeks, and was already up to nine points in seven first quarter minutes after hitting his second three-pointer. That one pulled the Lakers to within one after they’d failed to clear a defensive board with four guys back, resulting in an open triple for Dirk Nowitzki, his second make of the period. The Mavs added another bucket in the final minute to take a 30-27 lead.
8:39 After hitting a corner three, Steve Blake added a free throw line jumper to put L.A. up 40-34, capping a 13-4 start to the second for L.A.’s bench unit. Jodie Meeks was excellent as well, scoring the first eight points behind a corner three plus five free throws; he also made two key defensive plays, including one in transition. Bryant returned at the 5:10 mark, but Howard had to sit after picking up his third foul, as Vince Carter drew a body bump in the paint and hit two free throws to tie the game at 43.
4:07 But one thing L.A. had working was its three-point stroke, as Bryant rose to drain his third (second in O.J. Mayo’s face without a dribble) and Nash followed from the corner to cap a quick 6-0 run. Dallas responded with four straight points before Bryant hit two bonus free throws and Jamison scored at the rim to make it 53-47. Jamison had 11 off the pine, and Kobe 15 total a game after posting 40 points in the win over Portland. Bryant also led the way with six assists, and five boards.
0:00 Kobe missed his final three shots of the period, all in isolation, as the Mavs got consecutive buckets from sub Brandan Wright to pull even at 54 heading into halftime. L.A. led by as many as six on a few occasions, but had to last with Howard playing only 11 minutes due to foul trouble. Considering that fact, a tie at the break wasn’t too shabby for the road team, certainly in need of a victory to pick up a game on Houston and Utah, both of whom lost on Saturday night.
7:51 The first few minutes of the third featured a 5-0 Mavs run with L.A. being lazy on D, but then an 11-3 response from the Lakers, featuring five straight points from Nash. Meanwhile, Bryant not only had 20 points, but was on triple-double watch with six boards and six dimes, the Lakers holding a 67-62 lead.
0:00 Again keying things was the bench trio of Blake, Meeks and Jamison, who helped the Lakers to a 79-75 lead after the starters had given up the lead moments earlier. World Peace (0 for 4 field goals) and Earl Clark (back-to-back turnovers) were hurting the offensive flow, but that changed when the subs came in. Meeks was up to 11 points and Jamison 13, helping Bryant (24) handle the scoring load.
8:30 Seconds after checking in, Kobe rose for a tough three in Jae Crowder’s face, then nailed a fading jumper on the next trip down to put the Lakers back on top after the players starting the fourth allowed a 7-1 run to the Mavs. Howard had missed all but one of four free throws, and the only shot he got off in the paint came off the rim.
2:31 A big shot from Kobe had him up to 35 points, but O.J. Mayo – who had really struggled all day – answered with a three to pull the Mavs within a point with two minutes to play. Since checking in at the 9:05 mark, Bryant had drained all four of his long jump shots, including his fourth three-pointer in five attempts, which kept L.A. afloat. It was Bryant’s seventh assist that found Nash, rising to match Bryant with a fourth triple of his own, putting the Lakers up four with 1:44 remaining, a huge shot for the visitors. Nash had a season-high 20 points, all needed.
0:04.5 After a 3-point miss from World Peace, Nowitzki scored inside plus the foul – missing the free throw – and the Lakers took possession as the clock ticked below a minute, up two. Who else but Bryant rose for yet another dagger jumper (5 for 5 in the quarter), getting Carter to bite on a pump fake before draining his shot, to put the Lakers up 101-97 with 46 seconds remaining. Dirk, however, was game: he made his second straight hoop to keep it at two, with 26.3 remaining.
World Peace went to the foul line with 16.8 seconds left, and after missing all six of his shots from the field, rimmed out on his first attempt. But he did make the second, and then provided terrific D in Dirk’s face on the other end, forcing the German to give it up, and O.J. Mayo (2 of 9 from the field) to hoist a three that wasn’t close with 4.9 seconds left. Bryant grabbed the board, hit 1 of 2 free throws, and the game was over. Kobe finished with 38 points a game after dropping 40 on Portland, plus 12 rebounds (second to only Howard’s 13) and seven assists on 13 of 21 field goals. His play, with help from Nash on offense and Howard and MWP on D, led the Lakers to a 3-0 start out of the All-Star break that pulls the team to within one game of .500, and 2.5 games of 8th place Houston (31-27). Up next is a tricky back-to-back at Denver on Monday night; we’ll see you there.