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Lakers end Mavericks' winning streak at 13 games

Jan 8, 2007 - 7:56 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks have witnessed the best of Kobe Bryant, but they still might not believed what they saw against the Los Angeles Lakers in their latest encounter.

Bryant scored 26 points but seldom-used reserve Sasha Vujacic stole the spotlight, scoring a career-high 16 points, including a deciding 3-pointer that helped the Lakers end the Mavericks' 13-game winning streak with a 101-98 victory.

Bidding for a club record-tying 14th straight win that began with a victory over the Lakers on December 13, Dallas squandered a nine-point fourth-quarter lead, allowing Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson to reach a milestone by winning his 900th career game.

"Kobe basically took over the game," Mavericks superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "Had some great shots but really, I think it was that Vujacic guy. Those were points you don't expect. ... He was hot, he made big threes for them."

Bryant, who torched the Mavericks for 62 points in three quarters the last time the teams met in the Staples Center on December 20, 2005, was a surprising non-factor with just 12 points through the first three quarters.

He surpassed that output in the final 12 minutes alone, scoring five of his 14 points in a 27-second span to put the Lakers ahead, 97-96, with 55 seconds left.

After Nowitzki answered with a drive down the lane to regain the lead, Vujacic drilled his fourth 3-pointer of the game from the left wing to put Los Angeles on top for good, 100-98.

"Sasha'a a great shooter," teammate Luke Walton said. "So much of shooting has to do with confidence. You know you get one to go when you're a shooter and then they just start going. And he made some huge plays for us tonight."

Vujacic, who entered averaging 3.6 points, played the entire fourth quarter and scored nine of his 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from the arc.

A first-round pick in 2004 out of Yugoslavia, he said he was due after a disastrous effort against Denver two nights earlier.

"Coming from last game - you know, where I was 0-for-5 - it was hard not to be on this night," Vujacic said. "So what I was trying to do was to follow the instructions of the coaching staff. ... All of a sudden, my teammates found me with open shots and I just wanted to take the responsibility."

Dallas' Jason Terry drove to the basket on an attempt to tie, but was denied on a spectacular mid-air block by Smush Parker.

"I saw that the jet got loose and he was heading toward the basket and we just met at the basket," Parker said. "I was fortunate enough to meet him there and get the block."

Dallas' Devean George still had a chance to tie with a 3-point attempt from the top of the key with four seconds left, but misfired against his former teammates.

Nowitzki scored 29 points and Josh Howard had 20 for the Mavericks, who were attempting to match the franchise-high 14-game win streak established in 2002-03.

"You've got to give them credit," Terry said. "Vujacic had some big 3-point shots. Kobe had some big drives to the basket. They did the things they needed to do to win the game tonight."

Luke Walton had 21 points for the Lakers, who shot 55 percent (39-of-71) in improving to 10-1 at home against Western Conference opponents.

Jackson became the ninth coach to win 900 games and trails Dick Motta by 35 victories and Red Auerbach by 38.

"I can remember when Red Auerbach stood up there all by itself when I was a player," Jackson said. "You looked at the wins the coaches had and no one else was close. It was very few.

"So it says something about the longevity of coaches now. It's a compliment to all the players I've had, the great players, the great teams and the great runs we've had to be able to accept this kind of gratitude to them."

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