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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks push Lakers to brink of elimination

Saturday, May 7, 2011








DALLAS (AP) ? Dirk Nowitzki (FSY) scored 32 points, Jason Terry had 23 and Peja Stojakovic (FSY) scored 11 of his 15 in the fourth quarter, rallying the Dallas Mavericks to a 98-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night that puts the two-time defending champions on the brink of elimination.





  • Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts late in Los Angeles' 98-92 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals in Dallas.

    By Ronald Martinez, Getty Images


    Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts late in Los Angeles' 98-92 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals in Dallas.



By Ronald Martinez, Getty Images


Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts late in Los Angeles' 98-92 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals in Dallas.






Dallas trailed by seven points with 5:05 left and was getting shredded inside by a new-look Lakers lineup featuring three big men. The Mavs hadn't led since late in the second quarter and a record crowd was turning silent. Then Nowitzki hit a three-pointer and Stojakovic followed with another, bringing the team and the crowd to life. An 18-6 rally followed, turning around the game and possibly sealing the series.


The Mavericks lead 3-0, and no team in NBA history has ever lost after taking such a lead. Dallas will go for the sweep at home on Sunday.


It's hard to count out a group that includes Kobe Bryant (FSY) and is coached by Phil Jackson, the winner of a record 11 titles, especially with Los Angeles having won the last two championships and with the added incentive of Jackson headed to retirement.


Yet the Lakers have only themselves to blame. They blew a 16-point lead in the opener, got routed at home the next game and now have this flop at the finish.


The meltdown included a play where Bryant threw a pass to Pau Gasol (FSY), but Gasol expected him to shoot and was looking at the rim. The ball hit him in the back, creating a turnover plucked by Dallas. On the Lakers' next possession, Bryant came up short on a long jumper to beat the shot clock, leading to a pair of free throws by Nowitzki that put the Mavericks ahead for the first time since the final minutes of the first half.


Playing without the suspended Ron Artest (FSY), the Lakers started 6-foot-10 Lamar Odom (FSY) at small forward. He and Andrew Bynum (FSY) dominated inside, but Los Angeles was never able to pull away.


Bynum had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Odom scored 18 and Bryant scored 17. He had only four points in the final quarter.


Gasol had 12 points and Shannon Brown (FSY) provided a spark off the bench with 10.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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