LOS ANGELES -- How it happened: Who needs Kobe Bryant for Showtime in L.A.?
The Kobe-less Los Angeles Lakers persevered without the league's leading scorer and with an under-the-weather Andrew Bynum to win an overtime shootout in part because Pau Gasol hit consecutive 3-pointers in the extra frame (the first of which the Dallas Mavericks protested to no avail that Matt Barnes interfered with at the rim). Gasol had made just five the entire season.
But, the bigger picture saw Dirk Nowitzki struggle from the floor (9-of-28) and fail to get to the free-throw line (3-of-3, one on a defensive 3-second call and two in the final minute of OT) despite leading the team with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Dallas wasted significant games from Delonte West (16 of 20 points in the first half), Jason Kidd (13 points, 5-of-7 FGs) and Jason Terry (21 points, 11 in fourth quarter and OT, 5-6 on 3s).
Terry's drive to the cup in the final 10 seconds of overtime to tie didn't draw a foul call and his shot from nearly under the backboard never had a chance. The Mavs could have gone for the 3 and the win, but Kidd inbounded to Terry, who took Ramon Sessions inside, but couldn't get it to go.
If the Lakers and Mavericks meet in the first round of the playoffs, which Sunday's win by L.A. makes all the more likely, Dallas better figure out a way to put a leash on the big man Bynum and slow down Sessions, who has had two massive games against the Mavs since his trade to L.A.
An upper-respiratory infection, along with the Mavs' defense couldn't hold Bynum down after a slow start. It was Bynum's and-1, followed by a monster dunk with 5:25 left that ended a 10-1 Dallas run and quickly turned momentum to the Lakers' side.
Bynum finished with 23 points (just 9-of-24 FGs) and 16 rebounds. Sessions put in seven of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including five consecutive points.
The Lakers dominated the boards with 15 offensive rebounds for an 18-9 advantage in second-chance points. Metta World Peace came up big to start the third quarter and finished with 18 points while splitting his six boards among offensive and defensive.
Considering the Lakers were playing without Bryant, Bynum was sick, Kidd was coming off Friday's rest and Dallas had yet to beat L.A. this season, the Mavs needed this one. Now they head to awaiting Utah with weary legs.
Kidd logged 39 minutes, Nowitzki played 43 and Terry played 37.
What it means: The loss means the Mavs go 0-for-4 against the Lakers this season. They helped L.A. keep its grip on the No. 3 seed, increasing the likelihood of a Lakers-Mavs first-round series that would start at Staples Center in two weeks.
Bold play of the game: Gasol's consecutive 3s were stunning and ultimately the difference in the game, but with 5:24 to go in the game, Bynum got the crowd revved up and the momentum swinging in the Lakers' favor. After Metta World Peace left a 3-pointer hanging high over the front of the rim, Bynum plucked it out of the air and threw it down with authority to bring the Lakers to within 89-88.
Stat of the game: The Mavs' run of 18 consecutive wins when scoring more than 100 points came to an end. The last time Dallas lost when it scored at least 100 was the third game of the season at Oklahoma City.