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Best Win of the Season?

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Yes, I think it is. As defeated Laker opponents go, the Hawks and Suns are roughly in the Dallas Mavericks' class, but those victories went down at Staples. The circumstances of this one - on the road, having been crushed by the Spurs the night before, sans Pau Gasol, sans almost any healthy players - send it to the top of the charts. The final score was 100 to 95, and the win was the 3,000th in Laker history. They're the first NBA franchise to hit that milestone.

The Lakers' defensive performance tonight was decent. Not amazing, but pretty strong. They allowed the Mavericks to score 1.08 points per possession, which is right at the Mabs' average. Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points to pass 20,000 in his career - well done, Dirk - but his supporting cast was basically kept under control. To keep a lid, more or less, on the Dallas attack despite weary legs speaks well of the Lakers' focus and effort.

Really, though, this game was won on the offensive end. When they had the rock the Lakemen were steady and smart. Kobe Bryant, moving like a creaky pensioner thanks to his spasming back, played most of the first quarter but didn't force anything. He let the offense work through Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest and had only one field-goal attempt in the first half. Drew and Ron combined for 26 points at the break on 9-for-9 shooting to give the Lakers a four-point lead.

At the outset of the third, the Mavs began hitting some of the open jumpers that had been rimming out. Four minutes into the period Josh Howard buried a long ball that put Dallas up by three That would be their largest lead of the game. Kobe (seeming to move a bit more easily), along with Drew and Ron, made enough shots to keep the Lakers close. Then Jordan Farmar came alive. He dropped a 32-foot bomb at the Q3 buzzer to put L.A. up five.

The fourth quarter was the most compellingly the Laker bench has played this year. Luke Walton brought a much-needed cohesion to the offense. Farmar was fearless in attacking the Dallas D. Sometimes overly so, but the man was playing with a purpose. With a bit over three minutes left, Shannon Brown made a knife-twisting jumper over Dirk to put the Lakers up eight.

Did you think it was over at this point? Of course not. You're smarter than that.

At about the worst possible time, the Lakers hit their only offensive drought of the game. Four straight scoreless possessions, combined with great clutch shooting by Dirk, tied the game again. A crushing loss was possible, even likely perhaps. It was time to call in a Kobe rescue operation.

Lo and behold, the cavalry arrived just in time. With 28 seconds to play, Numero 24 dropped in a J from the free-throw line extended, and on the next Dallas possession he smartly fouled Erick Dampier under the basket. The foul saved a basket and sent brickmaster Damp to the line, where he honked both attempts. Drew and Jordan sank three of four FTs in the final seconds to lock up the W.

This was a strong, top-to-bottom effort by the Lakers' roster. Everyone who played contributed at a critical juncture. Even Josh Powell made a three. That might turn out not to be good news if it means he attempts six more over his next four games, but never mind about that. Tonight it was awfully useful.

Now 30-9 with a half-game edge on the Cavs, the Lake Show returns home for a date with the Clippers. As we took the floor for the Texas Two-Step, a split was all we could really hope for. Maybe the Lakers did it the hard way, but they did it indeed.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

Lakers

89

12

0.28

86

0.18

55

21

51

56

27

74

1.12

Mavs

88

8

0.25

71

0.29

47

33

48

51

26

73

1.08