"We're a pretty smart team," Bryant said. "So if something is not going our way in the first half, we all come in here and not just talk about playing harder, but we also talk about the execution of it. That's the way Phil [Jackson] has raised us to play and think."
The Lakers matched the 2001-02 championship club for the best start after 14 games in the franchise's 61-year history. That team won three more games before getting their second loss. Even the 1971-72 squad that won an NBA-record 33 consecutive games with Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor lost three of their first nine before going on their historic winning streak.
Andrew Bynum, playing on a sore right foot, had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers' sixth straight victory. Bryant was 14-for-26 from the field after going 5-for-17 with 12 points in Wednesday's 120-93 win over New Jersey.
The Lakers recorded just eight fouls, the fewest by the franchise since it moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season. The previous low was nine, on March 28, 1973, at Golden State. The Mavericks became the second straight Lakers opponent that didn't attempt a free throw in the first quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points and 12 rebounds in a matchup of the leagues' last two MVPs, but Dallas' five-game winning streak was snapped. Center Erick Dampier, who tied a franchise record with 12 offensive rebounds the last time the Mavericks faced the Lakers, had no offensive boards in the rematch and just three altogether.
Jason Kidd, who had a triple-double in the Mavericks' 106-99 loss to the Lakers on Nov. 11 in Dallas, had 12 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. The Mavericks were 13-for-19 from 3-point range after missing their first 10 shots from behind the arc in Tuesday's 109-106 win over Indiana.
Josh Howard missed his fourth straight game because of an injured left ankle. Jerry Stackhouse, who recently asked his agent to try and work out a trade to get him out of Dallas, did not accompany the team on this two-game road trip so that he could get treatment for a sore right heel.
"We need John Howard back. It's not rocket science," Nowitzki said. "He's developed into a great scorer for us. We need him back healthy, slicing and scoring."
Reserve Jason Terry had 29 points for the Mavericks, whose bench outscored the Lakers' reserves 58-25. Dallas has lost 32 of its last 35 against them in Los Angeles.
"They played a good ballgame, but we were better tonight," Jackson said. "We had a run that broke the game open. But until that moment, we were really on our heels most of the time."
Terry's reverse layup gave Dallas a 78-67 lead with 3:48 left in the third quarter. Pau Gasol, who triggered the Lakers' pivotal run with a 15-foot jumper, tied the score at 78-all with an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Lamar Odom, and gave Los Angeles the lead for good 33 seconds later with a layup. He finished with 14 points.
From there, the Lakers' bench took over and increased the margin to 84-78 on a driving layup by Trevor Ariza with 10:20 to play. The Mavericks didn't get another field goal until Terry hit a 3-pointer with 9:12 left.
"We had an opportunity and let it slip away," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Give the Lakers credit. They did what they had to do to take the game away. That six or seven-minute late in the third and early in the fourth was our undoing, and Kobe made some very difficult shots down the stretch."
Kidd hit a pair of 3-pointers to help keep the Mavericks within striking distance, but Ariza responded with an 18-footer and a 3-pointer 28 seconds apart to give the Lakers a 103-93 lead with 5:16 remaining. Dallas got no closer than 108-103 on Terry's 3-pointer with 1:36 to go.
"When you play a team like that and they get the momentum the way they did, it's hard to get it back," Terry said. "But we hung in there."
Dallas' reserves outscored their starters 35-22 in the half, but Carlisle was forced to give his bench more minutes because of an early rash of fouls. Antoine Wright played just 12 minutes in the first half, but hit a 3-pointer and set up a 15-foot jumper by Terry in the final 1:19 of the second quarter to help give the Mavericks a 57-51 lead at intermission.
"Our bench did good things, but we expect them to play well," Carlisle said. "That is their job, and we need that every night."
Dallas is 7-8 under Carlisle, who started out 10-5 with Detroit 13-2 with Indiana. Carlisle was NBA coach of the year after his first season with the Pistons, and led the Pacers to a league-best 61-21 record in his first season with them. ... Kidd had two steals, bringing his career total to 2,077 and tying Mookie Blaylock for 10th place all-time. Kidd already is among the league's top 10 in assists (fifth), triple-doubles (third) and 3-point baskets (10th). ... Bryant averaged 38.0 points in his previous five home games against Dallas, scoring 62 on Dec. 20, 2005. ... Two seasons ago, the Mavericks enjoyed a phenomenal 38-2 stretch in which they beat the Lakers three times and lost to them once. ... The Mavericks did not allow more than 22 points by an opposing player in any of their previous five games. ... Howard also missed the previous meeting with the Lakers because of a sprained left wrist. He doesn't get another crack at them until March 15, when the teams conclude their three-game season series with a nationally televised matinee at Los Angeles