Lakers down Mavericks

March 14, 2011 - 0:0

Kobe Bryant shook off an ankle sprain and the Los Angeles Lakers relied on their big men to beat the Dallas Mavericks 96-91 in a showdown of two of the Western Conference's top teams.

Bryant, who had an off-night shooting, landed awkwardly on his left ankle in the third quarter and left the game.
He returned in the fourth quarter and hit a fadeaway jumper and two free throws to finish with 16 points as the Lakers (47-20) moved to within a half-game of the Mavericks in the West.
""I thought I was done, like done,"" Bryant said. ""I was just praying that when I stood up, my foot was lined up straight. I thought I dislocated it.
""Even though it looks horrible, I can still push off on it,"" said Bryant, who made only six of 20 shots.
""We'll just have to watch it the next few days,"" Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Center Andrew Bynum muscled his way for 22 points and 15 rebounds to help the Lakers win for the ninth time in 10 games.
""We knew that Drew (Bynum) was going to be effective tonight,"" Jackson said after his 600th win with Los Angeles.
""They have a big line-up, but he has shown before that he's a very effective player against the combination of what they put out there on the floor.""
Jackson said the team decided before the game to make a determined effort to take the ball inside.
""We were able to get the ball in the right way and score,"" he said. ""(Bynum) replaced Pau (Gasol) as really our post scorer tonight.""
Gasol added 18 points and Ron Artest had 12.
Only four other coaches - Jerry Sloan (Utah), Red Auerbach (Boston), Gregg Popovich (San Antonio) and Red Holzman (New York) - have won as many games with one franchise as Jackson (600-287). He also won 545 games with the Chicago Bulls from 1989-98.
Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion both had 25 points for second-place Dallas, but the Mavericks (47-19) could not overcome Los Angeles' six-point halftime lead.
Dallas, which won this season's first meeting with Los Angeles, got within two on Marion's dunk with 24.9 seconds remaining but the Lakers scored the next five points to seal the victory.
Earlier, in the second quarter, the Mavericks had leveled the score only to see Bryant score six consecutive points to lead a 9-0 run.
""Every time we were right there, we just never got to the hump,"" Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said.
""It was a tough loss because the game obviously had meaning.""
The Mavericks now trail the conference-leading San Antonio Spurs by seven games with the Lakers closing fast.
(Source: Reuters)