LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Despite his limited playing time and a
sub-par shooting percentage, Sasha Vujacic says he's never lacking
And that's a good thing, since a shooter must have that kind of
Vujacic had his best game in three NBA seasons Sunday night,
scoring a career-high 16 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer
with 28.5 seconds left, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat Dallas
101-98 to snap the Mavericks' 13-game winning streak.
Vujacic missed all five shots he attempted Friday night against
Denver, dropping his shooting percentage to 37.4 percent, including
31 percent from 3-point range. He shot 6-of-7 against the
Mavericks, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
"Always, always," the 22-year-old Slovenian guard said
regarding his confidence level. "My teammates found me for open
shots. I just wanted to take the responsibility.
"It feels great. The beginning of the season, I didn't start
well. I just want to be more consistent, show the coach he can
Vujacic entered averaging 3.7 points in 11.4 minutes while
playing in 27 of the Lakers' 32 games. He played the entire fourth
quarter and a total of 19 minutes against the Mavericks.
"I'm really happy for Sasha, how well he played tonight," said
Kobe Bryant, who scored 14 of his 26 points in the final period and
also had eight rebounds and six assists.
"He comes in off the bench and always plays extremely well
defensively, even when he's not shooting well," Bryant said. "I'm
proud of him. He's taken his lumps here, the fans have been pretty
hard on him. He's a tough kid, he doesn't back down, he's not
lacking in confidence."
Luke Walton had 21 points and six assists for the Lakers, who
presented coach Phil Jackson with his 900th victory.
"It's a compliment to all the players I've had -- the great
players, the great teams and the great runs that we've had,"
Jackson said. "It's become a game in which us elderly guys are now
coaching, which was an age that coaches didn't extend themselves
into when I was a player. It says something about the longevity of
The 61-year-old Jackson ranks ninth on the NBA's all-time wins
list, and became the fastest to reach 900, doing so in 1,264 games.
Former Lakers coach Pat Riley accomplished the feat in 1,278 games.
"Nine hundred wins is remarkable," Bryant said. "I can't even
fathom 900 games. It was special."
Dirk Nowitzki's jumper with 42 seconds remaining gave the
Mavericks a 98-97 lead, but Vujacic's long jumper put the Lakers
ahead for good. A free throw by Walton with 10.6 seconds to play
completed the scoring.
Devean George, a former Laker, missed a potential game-tying
3-pointer with 4 seconds left, and Bryant got the rebound. Time
expired before the Mavericks were able to commit a foul.
The win was the fourth straight for the Lakers (23-11), who
played without injured starters Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown. The
loss was just the fourth in the last 31 games for the Mavericks,
whose 27-8 record is the best in the NBA.
"Kobe basically took over the game, had some great shots,"
Nowitzki said. "But really, I think it was the Vujacic guy. Those
were points you don't expect. He was hot -- he made big 3s for
The Lakers shot 39-of-71 (55 percent) to 38-of-90 (42 percent)
for the Mavericks.
"We didn't have our normal fourth quarter," said Mavericks
coach Avery Johnson, whose team was outscored 33-21 in the final
period. "Everything we tried on them in the fourth quarter didn't
Two free throws by Jason Terry with 1:29 to play gave the
Mavericks a 96-92 lead, but Bryant made a three-point play with
1:21 left and two free throws with 55.9 seconds to go, giving the
Lakers their first lead since the second quarter.
Nowitzki put the Mavericks on top one final time before Vujacic
came through, taking a pass from Walton.
The Mavericks, who won 12 straight games after losing their
first four, are the 20th team in NBA history with two double-figure
winning streaks in the same season. The only team to accomplish the
feat faster was the 1971-72 Lakers, who had a pair of 11-game
streaks in their first 31 games. ... Odom sprained a ligament in
his right knee Dec. 12, and Brown sprained his right ankle Dec. 31.
Both are expected to be sidelined at least two more weeks. ... The
Mavericks' latest winning streak began Dec. 13, when they beat the
Lakers 110-101 in Dallas. That was the last time the Mavericks
allowed an opponent to reach 100 points until this game. ... The
Mavericks are 31-2 during the past two seasons when Howard scores
at least 20. ... George played his first seven NBA seasons with the
Lakers before signing with Dallas last summer. He scored nine
points in 20 minutes.