Rapid Reaction: Mavs 98, Lakers 92
How it happened: With “Beat L.A.!” booming from the stands, the Dallas Mavericks dominated the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers during crunch time.
Dirk Nowitzki once again was a hero for the Mavs. He had nine of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead bucket with 1:23 on the clock.
Peja Stojakovic snapped out of a shooting funk to serve as Nowitzki’s co-star in the fourth. Stojakovic, a midseason signee for the league minimum, scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the fourth. That came after he scored only four points on 1-of-5 shooting through three quarters.
Jason Terry, who typically shares closing duties with Nowitzki, finished with 23 points and iced the win with four free throws in the final minutes.
Kobe Bryant, whose clutch work is considered legendary, didn’t score during the final 4:33. He finished with a quiet 17 points as the Lakers dynasty got pushed to the brink of extinction. Pau Gasol, whose legacy has taken a massive hit this series, had another poor performance, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting and making several defensive mistakes that drew the wrath of teammates and coach Phil Jackson.
What it means: The mighty Lakers are on life support. They are the 99th team in NBA history to go down 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series. They will try to become the first to dig out of that hole to win the series. The Mavs are one win away from getting out of the second round for the first time since their 2006 NBA Finals run.
Play of the game: Off an isolation play from the top of the key, Nowitzki drove past Gasol to the left, jump-stopped just inside the block and finished with a left-handed jump hook. That gave the Mavs the lead for good with 1:23 remaining.
Stat of the night: The Mavs had a 42-15 advantage in bench scoring. For the series, it's a 112-52 edge for the Mavs.
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