Lakers vs. Dallas: Lakers, Mavericks get fiesty as LA rolls to easy win
Make no mistake, the game between the Lakers and Mavericks Thursday night at Staples Center was played with playoff intensity.
How else do you explain five players getting ejected from the game, a flagrant foul 2 and fans getting thrown out of the arena?
When it was all said and done, the Lakers had won the game, opened a 1 1/2-game lead over the Mavericks for the second-best record in the Western Conference, won the season-series, 2-1, and had moved to within 2 1/2 games of the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA.
The game almost got out of hand with 9:23 left after Jason Terry pushed Steve Blake to the floor for a foul. Blake got up and chest-bumped with Terry.
Then Matt Barnes raced in and pushed Terry, making things that more interesting.
Dallas assistant coach Terry Stotts wrapped up Barnes along with referee Joe Crawford. Barnes pushed Stotts away.
Lakers assistant coaches Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons came out on the court to grab their players.
Kobe Bryant, who was on the bench when the melee started, made sure the rest of his teammates didn't leave the bench and risk getting suspended.
When things had finally settled down after about five minutes, Barnes, Blake, Terry and Brendon Haywood were ejected.
Terry was given a flagrant foul 2.
Then with 1:52 left and the Lakers leading, 108-82, Shannon Brown pushed Brian Cardinal. Brown was also ejected from the game.
As it now stands, the Lakers and Mavericks would meet in the second round of the playoffs if both make it past the first round. The Lakers would have home-court advantage over the Mavericks.
The Lakers took it from there, clowning the Mavericks while running away from them, even getting Ron Artest into the action when he kissed his left bicep after he scored as he was fouled. Artest then flexed and smiled at the crowd.
Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points.
Lamar Odom had given the Lakers a big lift.
Odom, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. scored the eight unanswered points top open the fourth quarter.
He scored on back-to-back three-pointers and a driving layup.
With Odom making a three-pointer to end the third quarter, he had scored 11 consecutive points in the game.
The Lakers now are 16-1 since the All-Star break.
The Lakers had things rolling pretty well in the third quarter.
Their only problem was foul trouble.
Still, that didn't stop the Lakers from opening up a 12-point lead.
The Lakers ended the quarter with a Lamar Odom three-pointer and with Andrew Bynum blocking a last-second shot attempt by Shawn Marion.
Lakers 54, Mavericks 51 (end of first half)
It was all about hustle and determination by the Lakers in the second quarter.
It was all about effort and giving your all by the Lakers in the second quarter.
But the Mavericks were nearly able to match that intensity, allowing them to stay in the game when the Lakers tried to pull away.
It was clear the Lakers were up for this game by their reactions.
Take Andrew Bynum.
Bynum got the ball down low, did a 360-spin around Dirk Nowitzki and powered up for a two-handed dunk.
Bynum raised himself on the rim and let out a scream. He then looked over at the Lakers' bench, where everyone had leaped from his seat.
When the Mavericks called a timeout after the play with 9:18 left in the second quarter, Bynum chest-bumped and high-fived his teammates while walking to the bench.
Then there was Kobe Bryant missing a shot but racing back on defense, tipping a pass away and then tipping the ball to Derek Fisher.
That led to a jumper by Ron Artest.
Then there was Lamar Odom getting an offensive rebound and quickly throwing the ball inside to Pau Gasol for a basket.
Gasol leads a balanced scoring attack with 13 points, followed by Bynum (12) and Bryant (11). Artest has seven points, three rebounds and a team-high five assists.
Dallas was led by Nowitzki's 14 points. Tyson Chandler has seven points and eight rebounds
Lakers 28, Mavericks 26 (end of first quarter)
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said it wasn't a playoff-type game, but it sure was entertaining and pretty intense in the first quarter.
The Lakers shot 54.2% from the field and Pau Gasol led the Lakers with eight points on four-for-five shooting.
The Mavericks shot 45.8% and were led by Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki with six points.
One of the more interesting matchups to start the game was the Mavericks' having 6-foot-2 Rodrigue Beaubois on 6-foot-6 Kobe Bryant.
Bryant did take Beaubois in the post a couple of times, but he didn't try to overdo it.
Bryant had seven points on three-for-six shooting and three assists.
As it now stands, the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks could meet in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs if both advance past the first round.
And as of now, the Lakers would have home-court advantage over the Mavericks.
So the game between the Lakers and Mavericks on Thursday night at Staples Center has a lot of importance, seeing as how L.A. has a half-game lead over Dallas for the second-best record in the West.
Even though the game has playoff implications as far as seeding, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said before the game that it does not feel like a playoff game.
"No, it doesn't, but it's a really good regular-season game," Jackson said.
The Lakers and Mavericks are 1-1 against each other on the season.
The Lakers lost the first game in Dallas, but beat the Mavericks when the two teams met earlier this month.
Thursday night is the last time the Lakers and Mavericks will play during the regular season.
"This game has been in our sights for a long time," Jackson said. "The game in Dallas and this one, we knew that those two games that are important for us if we are going to step ahead of them. I think this is a great challenge tonight. It's going to be a really good game. I'm very wary of them."
Photo: Lakers guard Steve Blake and Mavericks guard Jason Terry go face to face after Blake was shoved to the court by Terry on Thursday night at Staples Center. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times