Kobe-less Lakers Outlast Mavericks 112-108 in OT

April 15, 2012

With 14 seconds left in overtime and the Los Angeles Lakers clinging to a two-point lead, Head Coach Mike Brown asked his team during a timeout a simple question: "Who are we?"

The Lakers identity under Mike Brown has been a question mark from Day One, with inconsistency on both offense and defense being a constant all season long.

On the final play of overtime, the Lakers Matt Barnes offered Brown an answer.

Barnes disrupted Jason Terry's potential game-tying lay-up attempt just enough to force an awkward miss, and the Lakers emerged with a 112-108 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Without Kobe Bryant in the lineup for the fifth straight game, the Lakers relied on a collective offensive effort, winning for the fourth time in five games without the NBA's scoring leader.

Andrew Bynum was his usual productive self, scoring 23 points and hauling in 16 rebounds. Barnes proved to be a valuable asset as well, playing an all-around game like the scrappy playmaker that he is, and finishing with a near triple-double. Meanwhile, Metta World Peace shot 7 for 20 from the field, but made an important jump shot with just over a minute left in overtime.

With no Kobe, the Lakers have desperately needed someone to create on offense, and today Ramon Sessions filled that role.

Sessions scored 22 points, and was able to efficiently push the tempo with relative ease against Jason Kidd and his 38-year-old legs. Sessions scored five straight points at a critical stretch in the fourth quarter, sinking a contested three-pointer with the shot-clock winding down, and then hitting a floater in the lane to give the Lakers a 97-93 lead late.

However, as well as Sessions played, there’s no replacing Kobe. The void that number 24 left was made glaringly apparent on the Lakers last play of regulation, when Sessions took an ugly fade-away jumper that fell a few feet short of the rim with 1.5 seconds left.

Dirk Nowitzki had a chance to win it thereafter, but couldn’t knock down an off-balance three as time expired.

In overtime, it was Pau Gasol who made perhaps the two plays of the game for the Lakers.

Pau made not one, but two consecutive three-pointers in the closing minutes of overtime to give the Lakers a burst of momentum that ultimately propelled them to victory. They were only his 6th and 7th three-pointers made all season. Pau finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.

While the Lakers gave a decent defensive effort when it counted most, the Mavericks torched them from the perimeter all game long, sinking 12 of 21 three-pointers. Jason Terry made five of six from distance, while Jason Kidd made three of four.

Despite their hot shooting from behind the arc, Dallas simply couldn’t make the plays to win down the stretch.

In particular, their usually reliable superstar, Nowitzki, played an uncharacteristically bad game, shooting a mere 9 for 28 from the field. The Lakers size and length down low relegated Nowitzki to jump shot after jump shot, and today they simply weren’t falling.

The game was a preview of a possible first-round playoff matchup, and if today’s result indicated anything, the Lakers can take solace in knowing they’re capable of beating the Mavericks with, or without, the Black Mamba.

By Max Rucker
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald

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