Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/5

Game 1: Wednesday, December 5th
Game 2: Sunday, February 3rd
Game 3: Sunday, March 17th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 19th

Lakers 98

(47-19, 21-12 away)

Mavericks 114


    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, March 19, 2002

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 28 24 16 3098
    DAL 31 18 33 32114

    Top Performers

    LAL: S. O'Neal 32 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Ast

    Dal: S. Nash 30 Pts, 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Blk

    Mavs send strong message with 16-point win

    DALLAS (AP) -- As far as Raef LaFrentz and Nick Van Exel are concerned, the Dallas Mavericks stack up pretty well with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Michael Finley

    Michael Finley scored 22, while Kobe Bryant had his worst game of the year.

    Steve Nash scored 30 points and LaFrentz tied up Shaquille O'Neal enough to help Dallas beat the Lakers 114-98 Tuesday night -- two nights after a narrow loss in Los Angeles.

    The Mavericks ended a seven-game losing streak to the Lakers and beat them for just the fourth time in their last 45 meetings.

    LaFrentz and Van Exel have only been around for the last two. So, based on what they've seen, they like Dallas' chances should the teams meet in the playoffs.

    "We had a chance to win in Los Angeles and we won convincingly tonight," said Van Exel, who had seven points and three assists. "It makes them think."

    O'Neal had 32 points and 10 rebounds, but picked up his fourth foul with five minutes left in the third quarter. The Mavericks, who were already on a roll and had taken the lead, used his absence to break things open with a 13-2 run.

    Kobe Bryant had only 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting, and none of the other Lakers could bail them out. They had their five-game winning streak snapped and endured one of their most lopsided losses of the season.

    "We're weak in mind and body," coach Phil Jackson said. "I thought we looked soft, especially in the third period."

    O'Neal left the locker room without speaking to reporters, but stopped briefly in a hallway and said: "I'm done. I've got nothing to say."

    Bryant downplayed the game.

    "It's just a loss," he said. "It's probably a big win for them, but we just didn't play well. We'll take it and move on."

    Despite losing 105-103 in Los Angeles on Sunday, the Mavericks came in confident in a game plan that had LaFrentz going one-on-one with O'Neal and defensive stalwarts Adrian Griffin and Greg Buckner taking turns guarding Bryant.

    That left the offensive big three of Nash, Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki free to score -- and they did. Nash hit 11 of 18 shots, Finley added 22 points and Nowitzki had 19 despite making only 5 of 16 shots. He also had 11 rebounds.

    LaFrentz, who was acquired from Denver with Nick Van Exel at the trade deadline, had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

    A key for Dallas was attacking the basket instead of relying on outside shots. The Mavs took only 24 3-pointers, compared to 40 on Sunday, and got to the foul line far more often.

    "On Sunday, we didn't take advantage of Shaq being away from the basket," Nowitzki said. "Tonight we did and got some layups."

    The Lakers led by only three at halftime despite Dallas going 5:40 without scoring. Then Nash scored nine points and dished out two assists at the start of the third quarter as the Mavericks forced the up-tempo game they prefer.

    O'Neal's fourth foul was the big difference-maker. In addition to Dallas upping the lead, the Mavericks got the crowd of 20,112 on their feet, cheering and chanting "Beat L.A." By the time O'Neal came back he was rusty and Los Angeles was out of sync.

    When Nash stretched the lead to 17 on a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, he punctuated the moment by thrusting his first, smiling and screaming "Yeah!" The Lakers never came close again.

    Jackson refused to give up, though, calling timeouts and running set plays all the way to the buzzer, drawing boos.

    "It's our job to play hard all the way to the final buzzer, no matter what the score," Bryant said.

    Rick Fox had 16 points for Los Angeles and Derek Fisher scored 10, all in the fourth quarter.

    Jackson was upset that O'Neal got into foul trouble. His ire was aimed at the officials, not his big man, because he thought LaFrentz got away with flopping.

    Jackson said LaFrentz did the same thing Sunday to no avail. The coach said he told his assistants, "I bet you a dollar we get down to Dallas and they call those fouls on Shaq."

    "And they sure did," Jackson said. "I hate to see that in an NBA game, but those things happen."

    Game notes

    O'Neal hit his first four free throws, then missed three in a row in front of the Dallas bench with Mavs owner Mark Cuban pointing at his feet and screaming for refs to watch him toe the line. ... Finley went through Sunday's game without a turnover and made it almost until halftime before his first miscue. Robert Horry stole the ball from behind with 3:30 left in the second quarter. ... Dallas hit its first 16 free throws, then Nowitzki missed one that would've given him a four-point play. The Mavs finished 32-of-37 from the line.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 98 114
    FGM-FGA 36-82 (.439) 36-88 (.409)
    3PM-3PA 3-12 (.250) 10-24 (.417)
    FTM-FTA 23-32 (.719) 32-37 (.865)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-45 19-56
    Assists 18 18
    Turnovers 10 10
    Steals 5 5
    Blocks 1 6
    Fast Break Points 3 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (2/0) 28 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 32
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Steve Nash Nash
    Points: 30
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1