There were five ejections and four technical fouls at Staples Center on Thursday night, but nothing could stop the Lakers methodical second half romp over the Dallas Mavericks 110-82, as they won the battle for second place in the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 28 points, and Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers moved their record to an NBA-best 16-1 since the All-Star break. They’ve also won eight straight.
In a playoff-like atmosphere, with the Lakers running away in the fourth quarter, the Mavs’ Jason Terry pushed Steve Blake under the basket, sparking a skirmish between the players on the court.
Matt Barnes, Blake, Terry, and Brendan Haywood were all ejected, with Terry picking up a flagrant-2 foul. Minutes later, Shannon Brown was ejected after another shoving match that followed a hard foul on Pau Gasol with the game well out of reach.
Neither of the incidents could take away what was a dominating performance by the world champs, who held Dallas to just 31 points in the second half, including closing the game on a 19-2 run. The two teams could face each at some point during the playoffs.
Gasol chipped in with 20 points and six rebounds, and Lamar Odom had 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, scoring 11 straight points at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, that turned a 79-70 game into a 90-70 lead. Ron Artest poured in 13 points.
The Lakers led a tight game 54-51 at halftime, and then slowly started to pull away late in the third quarter. After Odom’s 11-0 run late in the game, Dallas responded after the first flare up to get to within 91-80. Bryant was reinserted into the game to restore order, scoring six straight points and the game was never close again.
For the game, the Lakers shot 44.7% (38-85) from the field, and hit 28-39 (71.8%) from the foul line. They outrebounded the Mavericks 52-47, and committed just seven turnovers. Dallas shot a woeful 36.1% (30-83) from the floor, and a miserable 6-26 (23.1%) from beyond the arc. They scored just 12 points in the final quarter.
Dirk Nowitski led the visitors with 27 points and 13 rebounds, one of only three Mavs in double figures. Peja Stojakovic had 13 and J.J. Barea had 10 points off the bench. Before getting tossed from the game, Terry hit just 2-9 shots for five points. Nowitski was clearly the lone bright spot on this night.
The win put the Lakers 1.5 games ahead of Dallas for second place in the Western Conference, and two games ahead in the loss column. They also hold the tiebreaker having beaten Dallas 2-1 this season. They are also only 2.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for first in the West after Boston’s 107-97 in San Antonio Thursday.
The Lakers play tomorrow night in Utah against the struggling Jazz, having just finished a 7-0 homestand. They’ll return back to Staples Center for a Sunday for an afternoon game against the surging Denver Nuggets.