Pick a game, almost any Lakers game this season, cue it up on the TiVo and see the similarities.
Lakers fall behind, Lakers snap to attention, Lakers win with ease.
Friday was no different against the Dallas Mavericks, the latest example of a loss-turned-victory thanks to a second-half rally.
The Lakers' offense was a mess and their new trademark defense was all marked up, but then they rallied for a 114-107 victory at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant posted a season-high 35 points after a poor start, Trevor Ariza had a season-high 15 points, and the Lakers (13-1) moved to within three victories of the 16-1 start of the 2001-02 team.
The Mavericks led by 12 midway through the third quarter and by 11 with less than four minutes left in the period, and then the Lakers checked into the game, as if a motivational switch had been flipped.
Bryant, who scored 23 points in the second half, had made only six of 15 shots at one point, but he finished 14 for 26.
The game was still up for grabs when he reentered with 7:46 to play and the Lakers ahead, 92-87.
He made a 20-footer. Then he drove baseline around Antoine Wright for an easy layup. Then Ariza made a long jumper from the top of the key, followed by a three-pointer from the corner, the latest sampling of his added outside touch.
The Lakers led, 103-93, with 5:16 to play. Game over.
Another rally overcame another sluggish start.
"There's a certain sense that you don't have to work that hard every night when you come out," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "You really have to in this game. There's so many teams that can surprise teams. If you're just not ready, you're 10 down, you're on your heels right away. We have to be much more alert coming into ballgames."
Already this week, the Lakers had to outscore New Jersey in the second half, 64-39, to emerge with a 120-93 victory.
Then came their lethargy against Dallas, almost as if they're fascinated with the prospect of falling behind by just enough points to be able to make a stirring comeback.
As a matter of fact, they did the same thing a little more than two weeks ago against . . . Dallas.
The Lakers trailed after the first, second and third quarters on Nov. 11, but they took the fourth quarter, 30-20, in a tense 106-99 road victory.
The Mavericks had won five consecutive games before Friday, and their point guards gave the Lakers fits.
Jason Kidd had 12 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Jason Terry had 29 points as a reserve. Jose Barea had 10 points and nine assists as he ran laps around the Lakers.
"Couldn't stop penetration," Jackson said. "They got easy shots and good looks."
An added consideration: Dallas played without second-leading scorer Josh Howard, whose 20.3 points a game were absent because of a sprained ankle.
It didn't show in the first half.
Dallas led, 57-51, on the strength of 58.5% shooting. The Lakers, meanwhile, made only 36.5% of their shots, Bryant only four of his 12 attempts in the first half.
The Lakers didn't know whether Andrew Bynum would be effective after a small bone spur chipped off his right foot, causing enough pain over the last few days that he wasn't a shoo-in to play.
He turned out to be the least of their problems, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes.
He was called for a technical foul after hanging on the rim too long after a fourth-quarter dunk. Not that the Lakers minded, especially after Terry missed the free throw.
Besides, they were happy that Bynum was simply able to play.
Bynum aggravated the foot when it was stepped on in the second quarter, but he "gave us a really good game, I thought," Jackson said.
The Lakers committed only eight fouls, their fewest in a game since committing nine against Golden State in March 1973.
Afterward, Bryant was asked if this was a trademark of a championship team -- putting up runs that finish off games.
"This is a step in the right direction," he said.
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Give it a rest
Kobe Bryant, who played 40 minutes Friday night, has seen his minutes fall this season in the hopes of keeping him fresher:
*--* Season G MPG PPG 96-97 71 15.5 7.6 97-98 79 26.0 15.4 98-99 50 37.9 19.9 99-00 66 38.2 22.5 00-01 68 40.9 28.5 01-02 80 38.3 25.2 02-03 82 41.5 30.0 03-04 65 37.6 24.0 04-05 66 40.7 27.6 05-06 80 41.0 35.4 06-07 77 40.8 31.6 07-08 82 38.9 28.3 08-09 14 33.8 24.5 *--*