Bryant, Gasol help Lakers rally past MavericksNov 12, 2008 - 6:12 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- The last time Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were this good to start a season they ended up hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
The reigning league MVP, Bryant scored nine of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers held on for a 106-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
Pau Gasol had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Trevor Ariza added 13 points off the bench and a key block down the stretch for Los Angeles, which got a stern test after winning its first five games by an average of 22.4 points.
The Lakers improved to 6-0 for the first time since 2001-02 - the last year they won the NBA championship. In the process, Phil Jackson won his 1,400th career game. But it wasn't easy, as Los Angeles trailed the entire game until outscoring Dallas, 30-20, in the fourth.
"It's one of those games where we trailed pretty much the whole game," Bryant said. "Nobody panicked, we just kept at it, and we were able to take advantage of it late in the ballgame."
"It was definitely a tough game for us," Gasol said. "We let them get away from us in the first quarter, the first half. Then we got it back. Our bench did a great job bringing us back, bringing that energy and then it was a close game down the stretch."
Jason Terry led six Mavericks in double figures with 21 points, and Jason Kidd recorded his 101st career triple double for Dallas. Kidd had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, but it wasn't enough to prevent a third straight loss.
"Stats are secondary," Kidd said of his big night. "We want to win. For me, I am just out there trying to get my teammates the ball and make them better. The triple-double doesn't mean anything, especially when we lose."
"It's a disappointing loss," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "But it's by far the hardest game we've played. Everybody did what they could do physically.
"From that standpoint, there was something that came out of it that was positive. You've got to be able to finish the game. You've got to be able to win at home."
Dallas pulled to within 99-97 on a pair of free throws from Erick Dampier with 2:49 left. Jerry Stackhouse, who scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, had his 3-point attempt from the left baseline blocked out of bounds by Ariza with 45 seconds left.
"He pump faked me, I jumped," said Ariza, who also had six rebounds. "I kind of tried to move out of the way, and he shot it and I was able to get to it and block it."
Gasol then sealed the win by gathering an offensive rebound and converting a three-point play with 23 seconds left to make it 102-97.
"I saw (Fisher) going for the shot, so I just followed the shot," Gasol said. "I saw the shot going short and I was able to put it back in."
Terry's jumper made it a three-point game again with 13 seconds to play, but Derek Fisher hit four free throws to seal the win.
Dallas had several chances to either tie or go ahead late, but the shots weren't falling.
"It's execution," Carlisle said. "I thought that tonight it was a case that we exerted so much energy that we ran out of gas a little bit. But there are no excuses. This is a veteran team that's been there, that's won tons of games, and you've got to be able to close against no matter who you're playing."
Jerry Stackhouse's 3-pointer cut Los Angeles' lead to 97-92 with 4:13 left, but he missed a potential game-tying jumper with 1:51 left. Dirk Nowitzki, who struggled through a 5-of-17 night before fouling out in the waning seconds, missed a 3-pointer on the following possession. Nowitzki finished with 14 points.
A big reason for Nowitzki's struggles was the defense of Gasol, who shadowed him the entire game.
"Defensively, it was a big challenge for me to step up and make it tough for him," Gasol said. "I think I was pretty successful at it. It's a big key when you stop Dirk, it's a big plus for your team."
The Mavericks played their second game in a row without Josh Howard, who is still day-to-day with a sprained left wrist. Gerald Green scored 17 points in his second straight start.
"We're going through a tough stretch now, but we've got to stay positive, keep believing in each other," Nowitzki said. "We have to find ways in the fourth quarter to score the ball."
LA LAKERS 106
DALLAS 99 FINAL
Nov 11 11:03 PM
LA LAKERS 76
DALLAS 79 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 11 10:24 PM
LA LAKERS 54
DALLAS 60 HALFTIME
Nov 11 9:42 PM
LA LAKERS 26
DALLAS 35 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 11 9:09 PM
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