- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, Trevor Ariza had a career-high 26, and the Los Angeles Lakers squandered a big lead before taking control late in a 107-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Pau Gasol added 25 for the Lakers, who are battling Cleveland for the NBA’s best record and are already the Pacific Division champs. They could meet the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lakers had taken the lead in the first quarter and were ahead by 15 midway through the third before Dallas reserve Jason Terry led a 21-2 run that put the Mavericks in front 95-89 with 7:13 left in the game.

That was while both teams had mostly reserves on the court. When Bryant and the other Lakers starters returned, Los Angeles soon went on a 12-0 spurt of its own.

Bryant’s 3-pointer with 6:51 left ended a string of nine consecutive misses by the Lakers from behind the arc, and he made another with 3:36 that ended the run with them up 101-95.

Terry led Dallas 29 points off the bench, and Dirk Nowitzki added 20 on 6-of-20 shooting.

Gasol finished 12-of-13 from the floor, making all 10 of his shots in the first half. Bryant was 11-of-20 for the game.

Lamar Odom chipped in with 10 points and 14 rebounds. James Singleton had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas.

Terry took seven shots in the third, all 3-pointers, and was good on five of them. He finished 7-of-16 from 3-point range.

Down by 15 midway through the third quarter, the Mavericks began their run on a pair of 3s by Terry. He added two more from beyond the arc after a pair of Los Angeles turnovers in the closing minute of the period to narrow the gap to 87-80.

Bryant didn’t score in the first quarter but had 11 points in the second to help Los Angeles open a 66-54 lead. Gasol had 20 points by the break for the Lakers, who shot 61 percent from the floor in the half while holding Dallas to 42 percent shooting.

Nowitzki scored 15 in the half, but was just 4-of-13 from the floor.

Gasol had the range in the first quarter, going 8-for-8 and scoring 16 points from under the basket and on outside jumpers. Bryant, on the other hand, was 0-for-4 in the first 12 minutes.

Nowitzki had 10 first-quarter points.

Notes:@ Bryant and Gasol have been especially productive against the Mavericks, with Bryant averaging 34.7 points in his last six games heading into Sunday’s meeting. Gasol scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Los Angeles’ 106-99 win in Dallas on Nov. 11. … The Lakers have been tough defensively on Nowitzki this season, holding him to an average of 16.5 points a game in their first two meetings. … The Mavericks were coming off a 119-110 defeat at Golden State that ended their three-game win streak. Jason Kidd had his second triple-double of the season _ 21 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds _ in the loss. The Lakers had ended a three-game trip with a 102-95 win at San Antonio.

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