Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives to the basket against Mavericks guard O.J.… (Ronald Martinez / Getty…)
Lakers 103, Mavericks 99 (final)
Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki battled head to head on Sunday with ninth place in the Western Conference standings up for grabs. Bryant and the Lakers prevailed to improve their record to 28-29. The Dallas Mavericks dip to 25-30.
Bryant finished with 38 points on 13-of-21 shooting to lead all scorers, putting in 14 fourth-quarter points including a difficult jump shot with 46.9 seconds left to put the Lakers up by four.
Nowitzki scored a season-high 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds. The Mavericks missed a chance to tie the score in the final seconds when O.J. Mayo's three-point attempt didn't drop.
Dallas shot 44.8% from the field, getting 15 points from Vince Carter and 14 from Elton Brand.
The Lakers hit 13 of 25 shots (52%) from three-point range, including four-of-five shooting from Steve Nash and Bryant. Nash finished with a season-high 20 points on seven-of-12 shooting after a difficult two-for-11 night on Friday in the Lakers' 111-107 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers shot 47.2% overall from the field, getting 13 points from Antawn Jamison and 11 from Jodie Meeks off the bench.
Dwight Howard struggled through foul trouble, playing a little more than 32 1/2 minutes but still pulled down 13 rebounds to go along with nine points. He also finished with a team-high +15 points while on the court.
Bryant was called for a league-leading 13th technical foul, though, now three away from an automatic one-game suspension.
The Lakers, riding a three-game winning streak, will travel to Denver to play the Nuggets on Monday night. The Nuggets have lost only three games at home all season.
Lakers 79, Mavericks 75 (end of third quarter)
Both teams went on runs in the third quarter but the Lakers finished the quarter ahead by four points.
Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks each continue to lead their teams with 24 points apiece. Bryant also had eight rebounds and six assists.
Nowitzki notched a double-double with 10 rebounds to go along with three steals.
The Lakers hit 11 of 20 (55%) three-point shots in the game while the Mavericks hit six of 13 (46.2%) from long range. The extra five three-pointers by the Lakers helped to offset the extra five offensive rebounds by the Mavericks, who lead the category, 11-6.
As a team, the Lakers shot 46.7% from the field while the Mavericks made 44.6%.
Lakers 54, Mavericks 54 (halftime)
The Lakers got cold in the final minutes of the second quarter, giving up a six-point lead to finish the first half tied with the Dallas Mavericks.
Veteran stars Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks led all scorers with 16 points apiece.
After a lengthy slump from three-point range, Bryant hit three of four from behind the arc. He also had six assists with only one turnover. The Lakers had just six turnovers for the game.
Nowitzki hit five of eight shots from the field with eight boards in his first game of the season against the Lakers. He missed two early-season games because of a knee injury.
Dwight Howard struggled with foul trouble, playing only 11 minutes in the first half as he was called for three fouls. He had five points and five boards in that stretch.
The Mavericks shot 51.3% from the field, making three of six from three-point range. The Lakers made eight of 16 from distance.
Lakers forward Antawn Jamison was the only other player in double figures for either team with 11 points.
Mavericks 30, Lakers 27 (end of first quarter)
After a strong start, Dwight Howard had to sit four minutes into the game against the Dallas Mavericks with his second foul.
The Mavericks finished the quarter up by three points, led by nine points from Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas shot 52.2% from the field and 60% from three-point range (three of five).
Howard had two points and four rebounds before going to the bench. Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 10 points.
Antawn Jamison contributed nine points off the bench for the Lakers, who shot 45.5% from the field and 44.4% from behind the arc (four of nine) as a team.
Bryant was called for his league-leading 13th technical foul of the season, three away from a mandatory one-game suspension.
The Lakers (27-29) visit the Dallas Mavericks (25-29) on Sunday morning.
The two teams are both trying to break into the top eight in the Western Conference standings.
This will be the first meeting between the two squads with a healthy Dirk Nowitzki.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Mavericks.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.