The two legends put on a phenomenal show as two proud franchises fought for ninth place in the Western Conference.
Nowitzki had season highs in points (30) and rebounds (13) while making 11 of 19 shots from the floor. However, while the Mavs’ offense sputtered down the stretch, Bryant was at his best.
Bryant scored 14 of his game-high 38 points in the fourth quarter, including eight in the final 3:04. Bryant also finished with 12 rebounds and seven assists, a spectacular showing a couple of days after Mavs owner Mark Cuban hypothetically suggested the Lakers use the amnesty clause on the legend this summer.
The Mavs led by 3 after Nowitzki finished a fast break with a two-hand dunk with 6:41 remaining. That was Dallas’ last score until Vince Carter hit a jumper with 2:49 remaining.
Two technical fouls –- one on Nowitzki, one on O.J. Mayo –- for expressing their displeasure with the officiating also hurt the Mavs in the final minutes.
Dallas still had a chance to tie it up with four seconds remaining when Mayo’s 3 from the corner hit the rim and bounced out.
What it means: The Mavs’ playoff hopes took a major hit with a loss to one of their prime competitors for the West’s final seed. The Lakers (28-29), who have won 11 of their past 15 games, are two games up on the Mavs (25-30) and 2 1/2 games behind the Houston Rockets. This adds to the long list of heartbreaking losses this season for the Mavs, who had won five of their past six games. The Lakers have won two of three meetings with the Mavs this season and can claim the tie-breaker with a win in L.A. on April 2.
Play of the game: Bryant took two dribbles to his left, pump-faked to get Vince Carter off his feet and drained a midrange jumper with 42.6 seconds remaining. Bryant’s final bucket of a phenomenal performance made it a two-possession game again.
Stat of the day: Nowitzki’s double-double was his first of the season and the 370th of his career. He hadn’t had a double-double since March 19 of last season.