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Bryant provides dagger but Mavs beat themselves

Dallas sees five-game winning streak end after breaking down often in second half

When Kobe Bryant makes a clutch play to beat you, it's not shocking.

The Dallas Mavericks saw their five-game winning streak die not so much because of what the Los Angeles Lakers superstar did, but what the Mavericks didn't do.

Bryant's fadeaway 3-pointer from about 30 feet with 34.9 seconds - and 1 second on the shot clock - to go provided the dagger in the Mavericks as the Lakers pulled off a 109-106 upset Monday night at American Airlines Center.

It was a painful loss in many ways, not the least of which was a hip injury to Keith Van Horn, who had to be helped off the court early in the second quarter and could barely walk after the game.

But the problems besetting the Mavericks down the stretch hurt just as bad.

They failed to box out on Bryant's missed free throw with 18.2 seconds left and Los Angeles up, 105-103. When Luke Walton rebounded, Dallas had to foul and Walton hit two free throws.

There were other problems. The Mavericks made only four of 16 shots in the fourth quarter. They were outrebounded 15-9 in the period, a department they dominated for three quarters. They also missed four free throws.

Game management provided another glaring problem. Avery Johnson burned his timeouts earlier in the game and had only one to use in the final two minutes. That haunted the Mavericks when they could not advance the ball to the front court after several Laker free throws in the final minute.

And, of course, Bryant broke the Mavericks' hearts. He took 33 shots, but nobody could say he put the ball up too many times. His 43 points, four steals and five rebounds confounded the Mavericks. With his team trailing by a point, Bryant lost control of the ball briefly on the perimeter, ran it down and flipped in the 30-footer over Adrian Griffin for a 104-102 lead.

"We're not amazed, to say the least," said Laker coach Phil Jackson. "It's a beautiful thing to see, but it's something we've grown accustomed to over the years."

True, the Mavericks are not the first nor the last team Bryant has flattened with a big shot.

Said Bryant: "For me, it was a good look. You know, I've done it before."

Moments later, Bryant blocked DeSagana Diop, who earned a foul on the rebound. But he made only one of two free throws, setting up the Laker free-throw flurry in the final seconds.

When Devin Harris made a 3-pointer with 8.5 left, the Mavericks were down, 107-106.

Smush Parker hit two free throws with 5.6 showing, but without a timeout to advance the ball, the Mavericks had to go the length of the floor and Jason Terry's bomb at the buzzer was off the mark.

In other NBA action: Philadelphia 90, Minnesota 89; Milwaukee 112, New York 92; New Orleans 91, Phoenix 87; Utah 92, Detroit 78.


Updated : 2021-07-26 23:45 GMT+08:00