|The Lakers railed from 30 points down, 27 in the fourth quarter, to defeat the Dallas Mavericks. It was one for the ages. Something I haven't seen from the Lakers this entire season, a solid game. Maybe this will turn around their season. I think it will. Read on.
L.A. Lakers 105, Dallas 103
Lakers' Comeback Shocks Mavs
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 6 -- If the Los Angeles Lakers go on to win their fourth straight title, this will be the game in which they turned their season around.
The Lakers staged one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history, erasing a 30-point deficit for an improbable 105-103 victory over the league-leading Dallas Mavericks, who have to believe they are hexed in Hollywood.
Kobe Bryant scored 21 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, when the three-time defending champions climbed out of an 88-61 hole with a rally that rocked STAPLES Center. Bryant's spinning jumper with 8.4 seconds left gave the Lakers the win.
"It shows we still have the heart of a champion," Bryant said.
The comeback was the biggest in franchise history. The Lakers had erased a 25-point deficit to beat Chicago on April 3, 1979. They fell just short of the greatest comeback in NBA history, Utah's rally from a 34-point halftime deficit against Denver on Nov. 27, 1996.
"It's nice to have a team believe that they have the ability to overcome insurmountable odds, and it certainly looked insurmountable," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
On the other side was the collapse by the Mavericks, who appeared to have swung the balance of power in the Western Conference in their favor until allowing 44 points in the final period.
When Michael Finley's open 20-footer from the left wing clanged off the rim, the Mavs were saddled with their 24th straight loss in Tinseltown since Dec. 12, 1990.
"We choked, just flat-out choked," Dallas guard Nick Van Exel said. "They played like the world champs and we played scared, we played tentative and we just choked."
Shaquille O'Neal had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers (8-13), who climbed out of the Pacific Division cellar, percentage points ahead of the crosstown Clippers and Golden State.
"Tonight, for the first time in a long time, we showed that championship attitude," guard Brian Shaw said.
"Confidence is not our problem. Our problem is complacency," O'Neal said. "It's not going to be easy ... we just have to fight."
Bryant took over down the stretch. He had two free throws, a three-pointer and a driving finger roll before O'Neal scored to make it 96-93 with 3:08 remaining. Nash threw in a scoop shot, but Bryant had a reverse layup and drive around two foul shots by Nash, then found Shaw for a three-pointer that tied it, 100-100, with 1:28 left.
"We stopped playing. I don't know what happened," Nash said. "We had a hard time scoring and we were terrible defensively in the fourth quarter. It was too easy in the first half and too difficult in the fourth quarter. I can't explain it."
Ten seconds later, a free throw by Robert Horry gave the Lakers the lead. Van Exel answered with a three-pointer for a 103-101 lead with 1:04 to play, but Shaw drilled a corner jumper to tie it again just six seconds later.
Horry scored 11 points for the Lakers, who shot 51 percent (38-of-74), including a sizzling 89 percent (16-of-18) in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers were booed off the floor in the first half. The Mavs used four three-pointers to race to a 22-10 lead, allowed the Lakers to creep within 31-30 early in the second quarter, then seemingly obliterated them with a 33-6 rush to the end of the period.
In the final 1:44 of the first half, Van Exel, Nash and Nowitzki buried three-pointers and Finley and Nowitzki drove for three-point plays, completing a frightening 15-0 run for a 64-36 lead that had owner Mark Cuban whooping it up behind the bench.
"If at any point we should have given up, tonight would have been the perfect time for us to do that," Shaw said.