Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points to guide the Dallas Mavericks to a 101-96 win over the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. The German power forward finished the game strongly with 13 points in the fourth quarter, while Jason Terry had 30 points as the Mavericks (37-21) rolled to their fifth win in a row.
The pair scored 22 of Dallas's final 23 points as the Mavs recorded an impressive victory. "This is our type of ball game," said Terry. "Any time in the fourth quarter and the game is close, it's going to be up to myself, Jason [Kidd] or Dirk to get the win. "I think we welcome that challenge and we don't need to change it right now." Kobe Bryant, who on Tuesday made a game-winning three-pointer against Memphis in his return from a five-game injury absence, missed a three-pointer that would have tied the games against the Mavericks with 25 seconds remaining.
Bryant also misfired on his first five shots and finished nine-for-23 with 20 points. Lamar Odom led the Lakers with 21. "I thought he [Bryant] got other guys involved," said Phil Jackson, the Lakers' coach. "He was probably a little fatigued and tried to help the other guys get going." The victory gave Dallas a 2-2 split in the season series with Los Angeles (43-15). Elsewhere, Kevin Durant's remarkable streak of scoring 25 points in a game ended after 29 matches as the Oklahoma City Thunder lost 95-87 to the San Antonio Spurs.
Durant, who had 21 points, was also involved in the pivotal moment of the game when Manu Ginobili swatted the ball out of his hands to deny him a dunk and the Thunder an easy two points. The play came with less than three minutes remaining and the Thunder trailing by a point. Durant said: "He made a great block. When I was at the rim, he just met me there, his hand was inside the rim and he got it."
Durant was also philosophical about the end of his 25-point-a-game scoring streak. "It was good while it lasted," he said. "Teams are too tough in this league for it to go on like that. " Very fortunate, privileged to do something like that." Tim Duncan had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who finished on a 10-2 scoring run after the game was tied at 85 with less than four minutes left. * With agencies