With Kobe Bryant not playing due to various ailments, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 102-98 on Friday night.
The Maverick’s Dirk Nowitzki hit a long jumper on the first possession of the third quarter to surpass Elvin Hayes on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and moved into eighth. After coming up short on consecutive shots due to being winded from fighting an illness, the Mavericks franchise player would ask to sit out of the game just four minutes after the big milestone.
“It’s been up and down for last couple of weeks, so I had to get it checked out this morning,” said Nowitzki, who is the highest-scoring foreign-born player in league’s history, at 27,322 points, now nine ahead of Hayes.
In only his fourth game as a Maverick, Rajon Rondo, scored a season-high, 21 points, to lead the Mavericks in scoring. The former Celtic also had eight rebounds and seven assists in Dallas’ franchise-best fifth straight win against the Lakers in the regular season.
“I’m getting a lot more comfortable and coach told me to be more aggressive tonight, and I was able to get in the paint and do that tonight,” Rondo said. “The offense is called “Flow” where you make reads and take what the defense gives you. But, I liked the way I played tonight, and that would be the ideal way to consistently play in this system.”
Nick Young, who had 15 points on five 3-pointers, hit a pair from long range about a minute apart to help the Lakers get within five midway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they wouldn’t get any closer and would lose again on the second night of back-to-back games after beating NBA-leading Golden State in their first game without Bryant.
“Of course having someone of Kobe’s caliber would have helped out down the stretch because he has been in so many difficult situations similar to tonight and came out with the win many times,” Young said. “So with him out we have to find out a way to pull things out ourselves, and it’s disappointing to come up short tonight.”
Dallas’ Charlie Villanueva, enjoying an expanded role since the Rondo trade sent Brandan Wright to the Celtics, hit two big 3’s to answer Young’s and spark a fourth-quarter run that put away the game. The 10th-year player finished with 13 points and consistently broke the Lakers back heading down the stretch.
The injured Bryant, who was treated before the game and before the team departed to L.A., should return to the court Sunday against the Phoenix Suns. For those who think the Lakers are a better team without the future Hall of Famer, the Lakers head man firmly disagrees with their opinion.
“To the people who think we are a better team without Kobe – they are a bunch of “Idiots,” Scott said in a serious tone after the loss. “If our players think the same these last three games should prove to them as well that we definitely need him on the floor.”