Kobe Bryant registered a triple- double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a 101-81 win over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.
Dwight Howard finished the night with a game-high 24 points and also pulled down 12 boards, followed by Earl Clark with a double-double of his own with 17 points and 12 boards off the bench. Pau Gasol chipped in 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Steve Blake accounted for 11 points as Los Angeles won its second straight and the third in the last four outings.
"We missed a lot of easy shots, didn't get hot, but we were playing so well defensively that we won it that way," Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said.
With the victory, the Lakers are now tied with Utah for the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, although the Jazz do own the tie-breaker between the clubs.
The Mavericks, who were aiming to reach .500 on the season but are now 19 games out in the Southwest Division, were paced by Chris Kaman who scored 14 points before fouling out. O.J. Mayo registered 12 points while Dirk Nowitzki, Darren Collison and Vince Carter each logged 11 points in the setback.
"They used their length on our scorers," Nowitzki said. "I didn't think we were shooting the ball well enough to steal one here."
A tightly contested first quarter saw the Mavericks move out to a 10-7 advantage following a jumper by Kaman at the 7:48 mark. The Lakers responded with a 7-0 run and led by as many as eight in the final minutes.
Jae Crowder, who finished with seven points, was able to cut the difference to just three points as he banked a 3-pointer at the buzzer to close out the first quarter, leaving the Lakers with a 24-21 advantage.
Howard and Bryant both had seven points in the first frame for the hosts, although the former could have been alone atop the scoring list if not for the fact that he shot just 1-of-5 at the free-throw line through the first 12 minutes of action.
With a field goal early in the second quarter the Mavericks found themselves on a 7-0 run, but still Los Angeles remained in control. Dallas didn't attempt a single 3-pointer in the second period though, while LA connected on 3-of-4 from long range in order to establish a 16-point lead and eventually take a 55-40 lead into the break.
In addition to scoring eight points in the second, Bryant also handed out six assists.
The Lakers came out flat in the second half, converting just three field goals through the first nine minutes of action, allowing the visitors to put together an 11-0 run and close the gap to 63-58 with three minutes remaining in the third.
Following a timeout, Clark and Antawn Jamison combined to score nine straight, as the Lakers closed out the third quarter with a 72-61 edge.
Dallas trailed by just seven points with a little more than four minutes remaining in regulation and began to foul Howard at every opportunity, expecting him to come up empty at the free-throw line. Overall in the period, the big man managed to connect on 7-of-12 from the stripe as the Lakers pulled away for the 20-point victory.
Los Angeles turned the ball over 16 times, but the squad made up for those miscues by holding a 57-37 advantage on the glass. Clark, who played just over 29 minutes, set a career best with five blocked shots, the Lakers coming up with eight rejections overall.
In addition to being handled on the boards, the Mavericks were also outscored at the free-throw line, 21-6, even with Howard finishing 10-of-20 for the hosts.
Lakers guard Steve Nash missed the contest due to hip and hamstring injuries that limited him to only two minutes against Sacramento on Saturday...The triple-double for Bryant was the 19th of his career...The Lakers honored Shaquille O'Neal at the halftime as his No. 34 jersey was retired...Los Angeles, which swept the four-game set with the Mavericks last season, have a record of 104-32 in the all-time series...The Mavericks have won two games in Los Angeles in a single season only once, during the 1983-84 campaign.