Rapid Reaction: Lakers 96, Mavs 91

How it happened: Derek Fisher got the job done against Dallas in crunch time again.

Fisher, the man who hit the game-winning 3-pointer against the Mavs at Staples Center earlier this season, keyed a critical, tiebreaking 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter. The 37-year-old point guard hit a 3-pointer and a driving floater on consecutive possessions to give the Lakers enough breathing room to seal the win in the arena where their season ended in embarrassing fashion last spring.

Fisher (15 points, 6-8 FG), power forward Pau Gasol (24 points, 11-of-18 FG) and big man Andrew Bynum (19 points, 6-of-10 FG, 14 rebounds) carried the Lakers on an off night for Kobe Bryant. With Shawn Marion in his face and getting help, the NBA’s leading scorer had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (4-of-15). Bryant finished with 15 points, a little more than half his average.

The Mavs, who needed a 20-6 run to tie the score at halftime, wasted one of Vince Carter's best offensive performances of the season. Carter scored 20 points, one shy of his season high. The Mavs are now 14-3 when he scores in double figures.

Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and 12 rebounds, including two buckets in a frantic comeback attempt that fell short in the final couple of minutes.

What it means: The Mavs missed a chance to enter the All-Star break with major momentum. This was only their second loss in the last nine games. It could be considered a statement win for the Lakers, who looked forward to seeing how they measured up against the Mavs, according to Bryant. L.A. improved to 6-11 on the road this season.

Play of the game: Bryant drove baseline with his left past Jason Kidd and absorbed strong contact from 7-foot, 263-pound Brendan Haywood before flipping the ball off the glass for an and-1 circus shot late in the third quarter. Kobe missed the free throw, but that didn’t affect the aesthetics of the drive and finish.

Stat of the night: The Lakers, who were swept by the Mavs in the West semifinals last season, have won the last four regular season meetings between the teams.