It was a closely contested game, but the Los Angeles Lakers were able to prevail over the Dallas Mavericks with a 103-99 victory on Sunday afternoon. Kobe Bryant tallied a game-high 38 points (13-21 FGs, 4-5 3FGs, 8-10 FTs), including 14 in the fourth quarter, to go along with 12 rebounds and a game-high seven assists in 38 minutes. Kobe went a perfect 5-5 from the field in the fourth quarter. Bryant, who scored 40 points in his previous game vs. Portland, is averaging 39.0 points on 28-of-44 (.636) shooting over his last two games.
In comparison, Dirk Nowitzki stepped up to the challenge with his best game of the season. Dirk recorded his first double-double of the season (370th career) with a season-high 30 points (11-19 FGs, 4-4 3FGs, 4-5 FTs) and a season-best 13 rebounds in 39 minutes against the Lakers on Sunday. His previous high scoring game this year was 26 points at Portland Jan. 29, and his previous high rebounding total was 9 on three occasions. It was his 224th career 30-point game, first since Apr. 18, 2012, 35 vs. Houston. It was also his 107th career 30-point, 10-rebound game. Nowitzki has shot 21-of-36 (.583) from the field over his last two games and is averaging 27.5 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game in that span.
Some notes before the quotes:
- Dirk Nowitzki recorded 16 points and eight rebounds in 18 first-half minutes for Dallas. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles with 16 points, five rebounds and six assists in 17 first-half minutes. The score was knotted at 54 at the half.
- The Mavericks outshot the Lakers 51.3 percent (20-of-39) to 41.5 percent (17-of-41) from the field in the first half. But Los Angeles went 8-of-16 (.500) from deep in the first half (compared to Dallas’ 3-of-6 clip) and the score was tied at 54 at the break.
- The Lakers were winless this season on the front end of road/road back-to-backs (0-6) before the victory over the Mavericks.
- The Lakers came in having the fifth-worst scoring bench in the league at 14.6 points per game. Their bench had 29 points against Dallas.
Here is the quoteboard for the Mavericks’ loss to the Lakers.
On the win: “It’s a really big win. We didn’t want to have a setback tonight.”
On if people thinking he’s slowing down annoys him: “It doesn’t annoy me. I think it’s revealing of the individual’s ignorance to think that in 17 years of my career that anything about me says that I’m going to allow you to see me slow up is silly.”
On feeling hot in the fourth quarter, Jae Crowder’s tough defense in the fourth quarter: “I didn’t see him, to be honest with you. Those are shots I work on. I didn’t feel like I was hot or anything like that. I feel like I was making shots that I’m supposed to make.”
On his mindset: “I’m in grumpy mode right now. That’s probably not going to change until after June. It’s not good for those around me frequently.”
On guarding Kobe: “It’s difficult, it’s obviously difficult. He hit some very difficult shots. We ran at him a few times. One time we ran at him and (Steve) Nash hit a three. It’s tough when he has it going like that, but I think when we look at it on film, we’re going to see a lot of missed opportunities offensively and other things that we could’ve done defensively that were unrelated to him.”
On Dirk Nowitzki: “I mean, look at him the last several games. He’s playing great. He’s playing at that high standard level. Today, I didn’t want to play him 38-and-a-half minutes, but with national TV and long timeouts, he looked like he was fresher and I think that’s also a good sign.”
The technical fouls: “We’ve got to avoid them. Our guys know that. Those are things that we’ll continue to talk about.”
On Chris Kaman: “Kaman did well and I’m very pleased with how he did in the game. Earlier in the year when he missed time in the preseason, he came back and did well too. He has been working hard. He’s a good player and him being healthy is certainly a plus.”
On if this being a nationally televised game against the Lakers makes it feel like a bigger loss: “They all feel painful and costly to me. They all count the same in the win-loss column. …We had our chances. Our younger guys have got to get used to playing in games like this and understand what it’s about. Unfortunately, this is good experience for them. We would rather have it be good experience and win.”
On how they could’ve done things different on Kobe: “There’s a few things you can do, a couple things you can do, you can double or you can just send him to another defender on your team just to make it easier or vice versa. He hit some tough shots and that’s what it boils down to. And don’t have anything else to say. It was a close game, we were right there and a couple calls here or there, a couple baskets here or miss there and we would have won the game. They came up with some big stops in the end when they needed them and hit some big shots.”
How much was this an opportunity lost since both the Mavs and Lakers are both chasing down the last playoff spot? “Yeah you can look at it that way, but we still have a ways to go and we’re right there. We’ve got to take the positive stuff from it and just try to get better and learn from it.”
The feeling after that game: “That hurt us. That was definitely a two-game swing. We needed this one with so much at stake.”
How do you guys regroup now? “We’ve got to regroup and we’ve got to keep fighting. We still have time, mathematically, but it was just a disheartening loss. Another close, tough loss and we feel we let one slip away again.”
On what needs to happen going forward: “Just keep believing. That’s one game that we felt like we could’ve won but we just didn’t win and get it done. We have to win the next one.”
On if this game had a big game feel: “Every game is a big game. This is not any different than playing anybody else. I don’t care about the players or the records of anybody else on the floor. We need to win games, so every game we play is a big game right now.”
On Kobe’s game: “He was in a groove. He was rolling early.”
On the loss: “It’s another tough one. That seems like the theme of the year. We’re always right there in some of those games and we can never pull them off. If you want to be a playoff team, you’ve got to find a way to win at least half of them.”
On how he feels: “I feel good. I’ve obviously put in a lot of work since I’ve come back. …It’s been a long road back, but I feel good.”
On Kobe’s game: “He was rolling today. He got them going. …He made some tough shots. It’s not like he was wide open all night.”
On Kobe’s game: “They should’ve listened to (Mark) Cuban and amnestied him this morning.”
On seeing a performance like that from Kobe: “I always said he’s the best player in my decade here. I’ve been in the NBA a long time, and he’s the one player I love to watch. It was a big game on a national TV stage. It was a fun one, but we just came up a little short.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.