Dallas, TX – Kobe Bryant poured in a game-high 38 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 103-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at American Airlines Center.
Bryant added 12 rebounds and seven assists in the Lakers' third straight victory and became the youngest player in NBA history to eclipse the 31,000- point plateau at 34 years, 185 days, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain's mark of 36 years, 164 days.
Steve Nash followed with a season-high 20 points and Dwight Howard finished with nine points and 13 boards for Los Angeles.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 30 points and 13 rebounds, while Vince Carter and Elton Brand added 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Mavericks, who saw their three-game win streak come to an end.
"It's tough when he has it going like that," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Bryant. "I think when we look at it on film, we had a lot of missed opportunities offensively."
Los Angeles led, 79-75, heading into the fourth, but with Bryant on the bench to start the final frame, Dallas was able to open the quarter on a 7-1 spurt to take an 82-80 lead on Jae Crowder's 3-pointer.
Bryant then checked in following a timeout and immediately went to work, knocking down three straight jumpers to put his team in front, 87-86, with 7:20 left.
Dallas answered with four straight points thanks to a Bryant turnover, but the Mavericks went the next three-plus minutes without a field goal, allowing the Lakers to build a 94-90 cushion on seven straight free throws.
Carter finally quelled the Dallas drought with a floater, but Bryant responded with a jumper at the other end to restore the visitor's four-point edge.
After Nash answered an O.J. Mayo triple with a trey of his own, Nowitzki finished a tough layup inside, but was unable to hit the subsequent free throw to leave Dallas trailing by two, 99-97, with 1:04 to play.
Bryant and Nowitzki then exchanged midrange jumpers, and after Metta World Peace split two free throws, Dallas had possession trailing by three with 16.8 ticks remaining.
On the ensuing Dallas possession, Mayo got an open look at a corner three, but his shot was off the mark and Bryant corralled the rebound before knocking down 1-of-2 at the line to seal the outcome.
"Kobe made some unbelievable big plays coming down the stretch," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Bryant. "All he needs is the ball. Just throw it over to him and that's how he likes to operate."
Dallas shot a scorching 51.3 percent (20-for-39) from the field in the first half, but saw the Lakers knock down half of their 16 three-point tries over the opening 24 minutes to send the teams into the locker locked at 54-54.
Nash and Bryant each netted eight points in the third quarter to help the Lakers take a 79-75 lead into the final frame.
Bryant now has 31,027 career points ... Los Angeles shot 47.2 percent (34- for-72) from the field, including a 13-for-25 mark from long range ... Dallas shot 44.8 percent (39-for-87) from the floor ... Dallas fell to 16-11 at home this season ... LA has taken two-of-three from Dallas in the season series ... Dallas forward Chris Kaman (concussion) returned from a 10-game absence and finished with four points and four rebounds.